Gov. Beverly Purdue of North Carolina signed the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act into law on Thursday, which requires schools to provide annual education about concussion awareness to student-athletes, parents, coaches, volunteers, and first responders.
Much like concussion laws being signed in other states, the N.C. law also requires student-athletes suspected of concussions to be immediately removed from competition. Those student-athletes would not be allowed to return to play until receiving medical clearance.
The law requires a number of groups, including the Matthew A. Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Medical Society, the North Carolina Athletic Trainers Association, and the Department of Public Instruction (among others), to develop an athletic concussion-safety training program. The program must include information about the signs/symptoms of concussions, the potential short- and long-term effects of concussions, and the medical return-to-play protocol for student-athletes returning from concussions.
All coaches, school nurses, athletic directors, first responders, volunteers, student-athletes, and parents of student-athletes are to receive a concussion and head-injury information sheet on an annual basis, and all must sign the sheet before they're allowed to be involved in any interscholastic athletics.
The law applies to public middle and high schools and is effective for the 2011-12 school year. It was named after two former N.C. high school football players, Matt Gfeller and Jaquan Waller, who died after sustaining brain injuries while playing football.
In other concussion news: The Mayo Clinic will be offering free baseline concussion tests to more than 100,000 high school student-athletes in Arizona this year, according to a press release from the organization.
The test, called the Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool, can be taken from any computer with Internet access, and should take a student-athlete roughly 8-15 minutes to complete. If a student-athlete is suspected of having a concussion, he/she would retake the test, and a medical professional would compare the results with the baseline test. If the results of the two tests are dramatically different, it would likely suggest that the student-athlete had sustained a concussion.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed concussion-awareness legislation into law back in April, which requires any student-athlete suspected of a concussion to be immediately removed from competition. The student-athlete would not be allowed to return to play before obtaining medical clearance.