Legislation that would establish guidelines for addressing concussion injuries among young Tennessee organized-sports participants has cleared the General Assembly and is headed to the governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 882 was substituted for HB867 in House Thursday. The measure passed in both chambers by overwhelming majorities – 90-3 in the House, 30-0 last month in the Senate.
“What this does is protect youth who are injured in sports with concussions,” Rep. Cameron Sexton, sponsor of the House bill, told the lower chamber Thursday. “Unfortunately, right now, there’s a lot of people in the United States and in Tennessee who do not know what a concussion looks like.”
The Crossville Republican said the bill would require any youth athletic program to establish concussion policies that include what information is given to all parties, as well as how to evaluate athletes suspected of suffering from such injuries.
The bill covers public or private elementary, middle and high schools, as well as “any city, county, business or non-profit organization that organizes a community-based youth athletic activity for which an activity fee is charged.”
“TSSAA [Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association] has had this policy in effect for the last three years,” Sexton said. “We’re just mirroring their policy for all youth sports in the state of Tennessee.”
In addition, all coaches, whether employed or volunteer, as well as school athletic directors and directors of community-based youth athletic programs would be required to complete an annual safety program on recognizing concussions and head injuries.
Sexton said the Tennessee Department of Health will develop the Internet-based course that will be free for users. It will include a “concussion signs and symptoms checklist” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.