Education Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-456

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENT ATHLETES AND CONCUSSIONS.

Vote Date:

3/19/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/17/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Sen. Gary D. LeBeau, 3rd Dist.
Rep. Themis Klarides, 114th Dist.
Sen. Andrea L. Stillman, 20th Dist.
Sen. Martin M. Looney, 11th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

Concussions are common among student athletes. Nevertheless, not all coaches are trained to recognize concussion symptoms, and no uniform set of protocols exists to help schools manage these injuries. As a result, many athletes return to play before they recover from brain injuries, resulting in prolonged symptoms or even repeat concussions, which are often fatal. This bill addresses these issues by mandating training for coaches and requiring all students diagnosed with concussions to be evaluated by a licensed health care professional before returning to team activities.

Substitute Language:

Adds the phrase “or approve” after “develop” in lines 6, 10, 33, and 45, and after “prepared” in line 20. The State Board of Education may now develop or approve the initial training course and refresher courses required by the bill.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, CT Chief Medical Examiner – supports the bill. He states that it is “important to raise the standard of awareness and professionalism concerning and dealing with concussions.” The value of what this bill would accomplish would justify whatever expenditures are associated with it.

Mark McQuillan, Commissioner of Education – supports the bill, stating that coaches should be required to undergo concussion management training. Nevertheless, the Department of Education believes that it may not be possible to develop an initial training course by July 1, 2010. He recommends that since the CIAC is already developing guidelines for concussion management; they should be called upon to develop the training program in cooperation with the Department. In addition, athletic trainers should not be considered “licensed healthcare professionals,” as they do not have the medical knowledge to determine when an athlete who has suffered a concussion should be allowed to return to play.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Marje Albohm, President, National Athletic Trainers' Association – testified in favor of SB 456. She stated that concussions are under-diagnosed because they are not well understood and talked about the need for increased awareness among coaches, athletes and parents about the dangers of sports injuries.

Fred Balsamo, Executive Director, CT Coaching Education Program – testified in support of SB 456, hoping that the bill would educate “schools, parents and athlete's about the dangers of concussions” and that it would “protect the lives of children in our state.”

Dr. Joel Becker, Clinical Neuropsychologist, CT Concussion Task Force – testified that concussion management may mitigate the incidence of Post Concussion Syndrome, in which individuals may suffer “neurocognitive difficulties” and other symptoms months after the initial trauma.

Joe Bontitatebus – testified that he suffered a concussion while playing street hockey. Severe headaches and other symptoms associated with this injury, along with complicated medical procedures, interfered significantly with his schooling. He states that the bill will help prevent others experiencing the same misfortunes.

Douglas Bowie, Certified Athletic Trainer – testified in support of SB 456. As an athletic trainer who has witnessed the symptoms and effects of concussions, and who supervises a dozen other athletic trainers throughout the state, he believes that the processes required by the bill will protect student athletes from the effects of head injuries.

Steven Boyle, Coach, Hall High School – supports the bill. He states that the bill will put student athletes' safety into the hands of doctors and athletic trainers, who are trained to recognize whether a child is concussed.

Mallory Buckingham, Vice President, CT Speech-Language-Hearing Association -

supports the bill, stating that it would protect student athletes by requiring them to obtain written clearance from a medical professional before being allowed to return to play.

Michael Savage, Executive Director, Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference – supports the bill. He states that schools need clear guidelines to deal with concussions. The bill would educate coaches about the dangers of concussions, and the guidelines and protocols outlined in the bill would prevent athletes from being returned to play too quickly.

Julie Colglazier, Parent, Simsbury, CT – supports the bill. States after her daughter suffered a concussion it was difficult for her to obtain correct treatment due to a lack of information. Coaches need to be educated about how to manage concussions.

Laura Colglazier, Student, Simsbury, CT – supports the bill. She states that she suffered a concussion and that her condition was continually misdiagnosed. She says that awareness about concussions should be more widespread.

Connecticut Athletic Training Association Student Reps – support the bill, stating that it would protect injured athletes by requiring them to be removed immediately from play. It would also require them to be evaluated by a medical professional, and it would train coaches to recognize concussion symptoms.

Vicky Graham, President-Elect, Connecticut Athletic Trainers' Association – testified that in addition to CPR training, coaches should be trained to identify concussions. She states that the training programs required by the bill are already under development. Adequate medical care for secondary school athletics is important. Schools should have athletic trainers as part of their programs.

Stan Kosloski, Executive Director, CT Disability Advocacy Collaborative – testified that the bill requires the State Department of Education to develop a training course regarding concussions. It also requires coaches to undergo this course, as well as refresher courses every 5 years. This is a prudent way to prevent brain injury among athletes.

Carrie Kramer, Brain Injury Services Director, Brain Injury Association of CT – testified that many of the serious aftereffects of a concussion can be prevented if coaches are trained to “respond properly to concussion injuries when they first occur.”

Dr. Michael A. Lee, President and Medical Director, Pediatric Healthcare Associates – testified that many student athletes who suffer concussions develop symptoms that endure more than one month. Multiple collisions are often responsible for these symptoms. If coaches were aware of these long term consequences will prevent them from happening.

Theresa Lerner, Parent and Soccer Goalie, West Hartford, CT – testified in favor of SB 456. She stated that she has three sons involved in sports who each sustained a concussion. Each time this occurred, an athletic trainer identified the injury and pulled them from play. She states that other towns may not have adequate protocols to manage concussions. This bill would help to solve that problem.

State Senator Martin Looney, Majority Leader – testified that student athletes suffered over 400,000 concussions between 2005 and 2008 and that these injuries were distributed among a wide variety of sports. Furthermore, repeat concussions are very dangerous. Therefore athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion must not be allowed to return to play until it is safe to do so. CIAC rules already require this, as well as concussion management training for coaches. The bill would give those rules the force of law.

The following people concur with the above listed testimony:

Mark McCarthy, Director, CT Children's Medical Center Concussion Program - supports the bill.

Dr. Adam Perrin MD, Primary Care Sports Medical Physician, Old Saybrook, CT- supports the bill.

Julie Peters, Executive Director, Brain Injury Association of CT- supports the bill.

Taryn Roberts, Speech Language Pathologist, CT Children's Medical Center – supports the bill.

Paul Slager, President, Board of Directors, Brain Injury Association of CT – supports the bill.

Elena Slesinski, Sports Trainer – supports the bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed

Reported by: Alexander Genovesi

Date: March 26, 2010