Concussions: State senate bill tries to help youth athletes, coaches

toni.miil69 Blog

May 01, 2011 11:20 AM

Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial understands the tangible impact of Senate Bill 40. Having annual concussion recognition education for youth coaches will help them recognize symptoms, and requiring athletes to get medical clearance before returning to action should help reduce the number of concussions.

The secondary benefit to the bill, which was signed into law March 29, is simply awareness. Spence knows the statistics, how 1,500-2,500 youth athletes in Colorado go to the emergency room for concussions every year, and how there are more concussions in girls’ soccer than any other sport. She hopes the bill, and the mandatory education that goes with it, makes others aware of the dangers.

“I just think along with the NFL, which is doing a great deal of research, the entire country is becoming more aware of the issue,” Spence said.

Spence became more aware and interested in the topic when 14-year-old Jake Snakenberg, a football player at Grandview High in Aurora and a Spence constituent, died from a concussion. The bill is named after Snakenberg.

The Colorado High School Activities Association had a policy requiring concussion education for coaches and that athletes had to be removed from competition when a concussion is diagnosed and couldn’t return until they were cleared.

Senate Bill 40 has been lauded for including coaches and athletes of middle school, junior high and club teams, and is designed to protect athletes as young as 11 years old.

“We figure if it’s important for our high school sports, it’s important for our middle school sports,” Spence said. “It’s protecting the young, developing brains of children.”

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