To protect student athletes, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a law requiring coaches to remove any player showing signs of concussion.
The new law will not only protect against serious brain injury. It formally trains coaches on what a concussed athlete looks like.
Athletes removed from a game because of a suspected concussion can return only after a specialist’s approval. New Jersey is one of just a handful of states with that requirement.
Barbara Geiger-Parker of the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey said, students will now get the rest they need to recover from an impact.
“With a concussion a child might be on reduced school work, might not even be able to go to school for a while and shouldn’t be playing video games or texting,” she said. “It’s very important that the brain get a rest.”
The Centers for Disease Control estimates athletes sustain 62,000 concussions each year in high-school contact sports.
Assemblyman Patrick Deignan, who sponsored the bill in the New Jersey Legislature, refers to the law as a common sense mandate.
“You don’t put a kid back in a game. There’s no such thing as a mild concussion. They’ve got to be cleared before they go back in the game,” he said. “You know there’s a lot more important things than winning or losing a particular game. Concussions literally destroy lives.”
By next school year, the law requires the Department of Education to start an athletic head injury safety program.
Each school district will also need a written policy on the prevention and treatment of concussions.