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Delaware Rings in School Year With New Concussion Law

Gov. Jack Markell signed Delaware's youth-concussion law on Tuesday, making it the 32nd state (along with the District of Columbia) to have one.

The law requires each student-athlete's parent or guardian to sign a concussion-information sheet before he/she can practice or compete in games. Coaches must also undergo training at a yet-to-be-determined interval, set by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association. And, like virtually every other state with a concussion law, any time a student-athlete is suspected of sustaining a concussion, he/she must immediately be removed from play and receive medical clearance before returning.

"When you look at the data and the long-term effects of concussions—especially repeat concussions—it paints an alarming picture," Gov. Markell said, according to the Newark Post. "Sports has gone beyond outdated adages about getting 'dinged,' 'playing tough,' and getting back into the game. Concussion can be serious, potentially life-changing injuries. We're stepping up and treating them with the seriousness they deserve."

Regulations, according to the text of the law, will be in place no later than the 2012-13 school year.

In a note that piqued the interest of this blogger, an admitted Philadelphia Eagles fan, Eagles legend Vince Papale attended the signing ceremony. (You may recognize him from the movie "Invincible.")

"It is the nature of an athlete to want to stay in the game," Papale said, according to the paper. "The invincible attitude is why great athletes perform as they do. We need to make sure that when it comes to kids especially, that we look out for their long-term health. We owe them that much."

In other youth-concussion news: The two-minute King-Devick test, meant to be administered on the sideline after a youth is suspected of a concussion, was found to provide a reliable, accurate diagnosis, according to a study recently published online in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences. (Do K-D tests sound familiar? I wrote about them back in February.)

The K-D test is a form of baseline concussion test that captures eye movements while test subjects go through rapid number-naming exercises. Athletes take a K-D test before the season to establish a healthy baseline, then take it again after potentially suffering a concussion to compare the results.

The study tested 219 collegiate athletes at baseline and found their post-season K-D scores to be slightly lower (better) than their pre-season scores—indicative of mild learning changes over the course of the season. Of the 10 athletes who sustained concussions, all but one had significantly higher (worse) K-D scores after being tested on the sideline, taking an average of 5.9 seconds more than on their best baseline scores.

These findings provided "initial evidence" that the K-D test could be a "strong candidate [for a] rapid sideline visual-screening tool for concussion," according to the study.

One person who's sold? Ralph Nader. His League of Fans, a nonprofit group dedicated to "encouraging social and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture," released a reportRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader last week that called for K-D tests to become mandatory at the high school level on down.

The League of Fans also recommended that all sports leagues at all levels be required to develop a concussion policy statement and implement a concussion education program. And the group didn't stop there; it suggested that all states adopt a youth-concussion law similar to Colorado's Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion ActRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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