Jan 29, 2015
Help On The Way?

By Kyle Garratt

From bills that would increase testing for concussions in Texas and steroids in Illinois, to proposals aimed at improving high school athlete safety in North Carolina and Kentucky, sports medicine legislation is making news across the country. Here’s a look at where these and other bills stand.

More Testing in Texas?

A proposed bill currently with the Higher Education Committee would require all University Interscholastic League athletes who play contact sports to undergo preseason baseline cognitive testing, which would then be used to assess athletes after they sustain a head injury. Under the bill, post-collision testing would not be required, and coaches would make the decision on when athletes can return to participation.

Kentucky Responds

Gov. Steve Beshear signed House Bill 383 into law in late March, requiring high school coaches to complete a course on sports safety and injury prevention, and then pass a test on what they learned. The bill was created in the wake of the passing of Max Gilpin, a Louisville teenager who collapsed during a practice in August and then died three days later due to complications from heat stroke.

The new law requires at least one person who has passed the test be present at all athletic practices and competitions. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association is working with the Kentucky Medical Association to create an online safety course for up to 12,000 fall sport coaches to complete before July 15, so they will be in compliance with the law before practices start. A committee of medical professionals will devise a permanent safety course and test in a few months.

ATCs for all of NC

The North Carolina General Assembly is reviewing a Senate Bill that would require all high schools in the state to employ a full-time, non-teaching, certified athletic trainer. The proposal comes after five North Carolina student-athletes died in the past year and asks for approximately $22 million in public funding.

“We need to ensure the safety of our high school athletes,” State Senator and bill co-sponsor Don Davis told enctoday.com. “Certified trainers would be able to follow the condition of athletes and work to prevent injuries.”

Concussion Training

A proposed bill that would require training in concussion treatment for all high school coaches in Oregon is being reviewed by the state Legislature. The bill also states athletes can not return to play without a medical release from a health care professional if they display concussion symptoms or on the same day they report symptoms.

Tougher Testing

In late March, the Illinois House unanimously passed a bill that would expand random steroid testing of high school student-athletes from just the playoffs, as is the case under the current policy, to the entire season.

“You need to do that so people have no idea it’s coming,” state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), the House sponsor of the bill told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The bill now waits for Senate approval and would need to be signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn. If passed, the bill will test an additional 1,000 student-athletes each year from at least 25 percent of Illinois’ high schools. An additional $50 fee for drug conviction fines would help fund the additional testing, a proposal that concerns some lawmakers because they say a majority of drug fines are unpaid.

Kyle Garratt is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning. Contact him at [email protected].

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