The Michigan House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved landmark legislation to raise awareness and reduce the amount of head-related injuries in youth sports, state Rep. Mark Ouimet announced this week.
House Bill 5697 requires coaches to immediately remove an athlete from play if a concussion is suspected, and return only after written authorization from an appropriate health professional.
"As more research is done on the potential long-term effects of sports-related head injuries, we must do all we can to make sure young people stay safe," said Ouimet, who played football in high school and college. "Students are growing both physically and mentally, and no sport or game is worth a possible life-long disability."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that sports-related head injuries, including concussions, have increased 60 percent in the last 10 years.
HB 5697 and Senate Bill 1222 require the Michigan Department of Community Health to develop materials and training for Michigan athletes, parents and coaches on concussion-related injuries and treatments.
Under SB 1222, educational materials and a training program would be made available to students, parents and coaches within 90 days of the bill's effective date. These materials would identify the nature and risk of concussions, criteria for removing an athlete from athletic activity when suspected of a concussion and the risks of not removing an athlete from activity if a concussion is suspected.
"Parents and young people need to know that there are substantial risks involved if a player is allowed to continue playing after receiving a head injury," Ouimet said. "The public service message of 'when in doubt, sit it out' should resonate with all parents of student-athletes. My hope is that this legislation becomes law as soon as possible."
Dexter Athletic Director Mike Bavineau praised the legislation, stating that its a victory for student athletes.
"This is something that the Michigan High School Athletic Association has been working on for some time," he said. "Dexter already has a great training staff that looks out for the student athlete on the field and on the court."
Bavineau said athlete protection should be a No. 1 priority for all sports in the district.
"It's helpful to have a trainer on site. If students remotely feel that they were injured, we take them out of the game," he said. "Having trainers available to make those decisions takes a lot of pressure off of the coaches."
The legislation will now head to Gov. Snyder's desk for approval.