Concussion bill heads to Governor's desk for signature - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Concussion bill heads to Governor's desk for signature

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

A bill that requires more protection from concussions in schools by focusing on sports and the classroom is awaiting a signature from Governor Kim Reynolds.

The Iowa Senate passed HF 2442 unanimously on Thursday before it headed to the Governor.

Behind the bill, the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa said it's a big win for Iowa students and a step forward for brain injury awareness.

Under the bill, students would have to be removed from play if a coach or official observes any possible sign of a concussion. That student wouldn't be able to return until they are evaluated by a trained health care provider and then given written permission by them to play.    

"It increases the capacity of having more responsible, medically trained adults, watching our kids," Geoffrey Lauer said. Lauer is the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Alliance.

He said its important to keep students safe from a second injury by taken those precautionary steps.

"The best prevention is to not have a second concussion on top of that first. That's why we have the phrase when in doubt, sit them out. It's not just sit them out for a moment but its sit kids out until they are no longer symptomatic," Lauer said.

Another key piece to the legislation, is a "return to learn" protocol. Lauer said that means a student doesn't return to playing sports until they are fully recovered in school and class. That also requires support and accommodations to be made inside the classroom.

"[For example] a time to deal with mental fatigue by perhaps having a nap. If somebody gets injured just before midterms or finals if they're in high school a delay or adjustment to that so that they don't have to prep and have the mental push when they just don't have the mental energy to do it," he said.

Iowa City West High Athletics Director, Craig Huegel, said the school already follows the first portion of the bill. The school has a licensed medical provider at all practices and games.

"She puts the students through a rigorous evaluation, that can be both physical or mental. She's the final say whether a student can return to play or not," he said.

Huegel said the legislation is a step in the right direction for awareness. He said he supported the academic aspect of the bill, too.

"We don't often stop and think about okay what about the next morning after a kid suffers a head injury where they may still be suffering from symptoms," he said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health and Education, with the Brain Injury Alliance, have endorsed a R.E.A.P concussion management guide that can be used to help create a concussion plan for schools. According to Lauer, a copy of R.EA.P. was sent to every superintendent in the state.

This legislation doesn't require schools to have a health care provider present at games but it does limit legal liability if they do.
 

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