DENVER (CBS4) – A youth concussion legislation news conference is scheduled for Thursday at the state Capitol before a bill that helps to keep young athletes active and safe will be introduced in committee.
Senate Bill 40 is called the “Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act.” Among those speaking at the 12:30 p.m. news conference are Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, Kelli Jantz (Jake’s mother), and former Denver Bronco’s wide receiver Ed McCaffrey.
According to a news release, “Senate Bill 40 helps to keep young athletes active and safe in three important ways.” They are as follows:
1) SB-40 ensures that coaches of youth sports get training in how to understand the nature and risk of concussions and be able to recognize the signs and symptoms that indicate a young athlete may have sustained a concussion.
2) If a coach suspects that a player has sustained a concussion, the athlete must be removed from practice or play and cannot return that same day (unless the signs and symptoms of a concussion can be readily explained by another condition).
3) Before returning to practice or play, a player who has been removed due to a suspected concussion must be evaluated by a health care provider and receive written clearance from the provider to return to play. In an effort to ensure access across all parts of Colorado, the bill broadly defines the health care providers that can determine if an athlete is ready to return to play-physicians and neuropsychologists along with physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
“The bill is consistent with guidelines for Colorado high schools already adopted by the Colorado High School Activities Association,” a news release stated. “It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,500 youth athletes visit Colorado emergency rooms for sports related concussions each year.”
The statement said the numbers “significantly underestimate the total incidents of youth sports concussions because it does not include youth athletes evaluated in non-emergency department settings or concussions that go undiagnosed or untreated.” (Source: Youth Sports Concussion: Recommendations for Enhancing Athlete Safety available at http://www.biacolorado.org)
Children’s brains are still developing and take longer to recover after an injury, so concussions are actually more serious for young athletes than adults.
The Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act is named for a Grandview High School freshman football player in 2004 who died after likely getting a concussion.
“He likely sustained a concussion in a game the week prior, but his symptoms were mild and he did not fully understand that he had experienced a concussion. One week later, Jake took a typical hit, collapsed on the field and never regained consciousness. Jake died from ‘Second Impact Syndrome,'” according to the news release.
Training for coaches required by the bill is available free and online from a number of sources, including the Centers for Disease Control.