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Conn. Youth-Concussion Bill Advances, Practice-Time Limit Stripped

The Connecticut House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday that would expand the state's youth-concussion law, but a limit on practice time for contact sports failed to survive the legislative process.

The original youth-concussion law, which the state passed back in 2010, requires annual concussion training for coaches, the removal from play of any student-athlete suspected of a concussion, and written clearance from a health-care professional before any student-athlete with a concussion can return to play. It did not, however, require any sort of parental education initiative, nor did it require the signature of a parent or guardian on a concussion information form before student-athletes are allowed to participate in school sports.

House Bill 5113, which the House passed unanimously, aims to rectify the previous bill's shortcomings by preventing student-athletes from participating in school sports until their parent or guardian signs a concussion information form, which the state board of education must develop by July 1, 2015. It also requires a coach or other qualified school employee—including a principal, teacher, or licensed athletic trainer—to notify parents or guardians within 24 hours if their child has been removed from play for sustaining a concussion or exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

If a student-athlete exhibits the symptoms of a concussion or sustains a concussion, he or she is not permitted to return to play within the next 24 hours, even with written medical clearance, under the terms of the bill. It additionally requires all local and regional school districts to collect and report all occurrences of concussions to the state board of education. Starting with the 2015-16 school year, the state board of education would be required to send an annual concussion report to the state's department of public health.

The original bill included a subsection that would limit coaches from conducting more than 90 minutes of full-contact practice per week. Any coach found to be in violated of said subsection could have been stripped of his or her coaching permit by the state board of education.

However, the House removed that provision entirely before voting on the bill.

"We commend you for your efforts to expand on Connecticut's current concussion policy,'' said Jeff Miller, a senior vice president with the NFL, in a letter to lawmakers, according to The Hartford Courant. "Education and increased awareness are critical to appropriately recognizing and responding to concussions."

The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

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