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Return to play... safely (04-24-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by KEITH WELLS Sentinel Sports Writer   
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:35
A BGSU helmet, left, from the early 1950s along with a BGSU helmet from 1955, middle, and a current helmet being worn by Eastwood High School players. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
With more and more emphasis on concussions in sports, the State of Ohio has approved the “Return to Play” law that takes effect on Friday.
This law is designed to protect young athletes from future health complications by standardizing who can make the medical decision that allows an athlete to return to play following a suspected head injury.
It sets out to increase the awareness of the signs, symptoms, and behaviors related to concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) within the context of interscholastic and youth sports.
“This is a multi-faceted bill,” said Wood County Hospital’s senior athletic trainer Michael Messaros. “There has been a lot of emphasis in the past two years on concussions at the high school level, but now this bill carries over to referees and youth sports as well, which is why I definitely agree with it.”
Dr. Richard Barker, a licensed sports medicine physician at Bowling Green Orthopaedics, is in favor of the new law.
“We try and help communicate to others that when treated properly concussions, by definition, get better. It just takes a lot more time than we like and if it isn’t diagnosed properly and the athlete is not given a rest then that is when you run into problems,” said Barker. “I can’t see how anybody could have anything against this bill.”
As a result of this new legislation coaches and referees within interscholastic and youth sports are required to obtain Pupil Activity Program Permit training or complete a free online training program in recognizing the symptoms of concussions, every three years.
In an effort to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of TBI’s among the parents of young athletes as well, the law requires parents and their student athletes to review and sign a “Concussion Information Sheet” prior to participating in any spring sport.
“A lot of parents think that you have to be knocked out to experience a concussion, which you don’t,” said Messaros. “About one out of every 10 athletes are actually knocked unconscious.
Bowling Green’s Derek Huddleston and Ryland Black collide after Huddleston beat Sylvania’s Tre Jones to head the ball during a game earlier this season. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
‘‘What most don’t understand is that concussions are not visual injuries which makes them so difficult to treat. This bill should help raise that awareness amongst parents.”
One facet of the new law that Messaros remains troubled about is the potential to deter parents from wanting their kids to participate in certain sports.
“One thing that I hope doesn’t happen with this bill is that by placing emphasis on education, I hope that it doesn’t drive people away from letting their child play some sports,’’ he said. ‘‘For example, some parents may think that maybe I don’t want my kid to play football … football is a great game, but it needs to be coached properly, the equipment needs to be fitted properly, etc. Those are all very important components.”
Upon obtaining a Pupil Activity Program Permit or completing an informational online course regarding TBI’s, coaches and referees reserve the right to remove any player from competition or practice who displays symptoms or behaviors consistent with that of a concussion.
A coach also must prohibit that athlete from returning to play until he or she has acquired written clearance from a physician or qualified health care professional.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I think that this bill is attempting to prevent bad treatments and wrong attitudes about concussions by getting everyone’s attention and letting them know that this is a very serious matter that we (physicians) want to stop,’’ Barker said.
Sincere in his conviction to educate others on the dangers of TBI’s, Barker, also participates in at least three sports trauma clinics a year which are free of charge and hosted by Wood County Hospital along with a staff of physical therapists and athletic trainers.
For more information on the “Return to play” law visit
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:51

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