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New California concussion law exposes some dangerous gaps

As we wrote about on this blog a couple of months ago, a California law placing added emphasis on concussion awareness in school-sponsored athletics was about to go into effect. The law was created to make the diagnosis and treatment of concussions more immediate. Now that it has been put into practice, those involved with youth sports say that the law brought to the fore some issues that may not have been anticipated when it was being written.

One issue is that the law applies only to school-sponsored teams. Club teams, for whom thousands of California children compete, are exempt. The bigger issue, experts say, is that with the exception of football, there are not usually any medical personnel present who have experience in diagnosing concussions. That leaves it in the hands of coaches to determine if a player might have a concussion and if that player should be removed from competition.

Right now, coaches are initially required to attend a one-time training session that covers concussions, and they must go to a CPR/first aid class every other year. But as it stands, that biennial class may have little or no information about recognizing the symptoms of concussions.

One state assemblywoman has introduced legislation that would add additional training requirements for coaches in the area of concussion awareness. However, it may take some time for the bill to become law.

Whatever the law might require, people who have suffered brain injuries need time and proper rehabilitation to recover. In many cases, an attorney with experience in cases involving traumatic brain injuries may be able to help determine if seeking compensation for the injury is a viable option.

Source: Contra Costa Times, "California's concussion law puts teams on the spot," Suzanne Bohan, Feb. 1, 2012

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