HELENA — Montana senators are contemplating whether to make it easier for school trainers and coaches to bench an athlete suspected of having a concussion and if that rule should apply to school-sponsored club sports.
Sen. Robyn Driscoll introduced Senate Bill 304 on Thursday to tweak the Dylan Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act.
The Democrat’s measure would allow trainers, coaches or officials to remove an athlete from a school sporting event if a concussion is presumed to have occurred. The 2013 law permits removal only if a player shows symptoms of a concussion.
Mona Jamison of the Montana Physical Therapy Association said the update would protect athletes from serious health repercussions associated with head injuries that are not immediately evident. A mother of two, Jamison said she and other parents have a tendency to believe kids are fine unless they’re lying unconscious on the ground.
“As the parent you’re thinking ‘get up and get back in,’ ” Jamison said. She later added, “I think that this bill is really a protection for children against the vehemence of their parents.”
Athletic trainers, physicians and a representative of rural schools spoke in favor of the measure. No opponents spoke.
The proposal would also expand the concussion law to club sports that are sanctioned by a public school, such as open gym sessions and intramural tournaments. It would not cover recreational sports outside of schools, a provision which the YMCA successfully lobbied against last session.
Driscoll said she would like to amend the bill to expand the law to public universities in Montana.
Montana’s 2013 concussion law was named for Dylan Steigers, a college football player from Missoula who died in 2010 the day after he sustained a blow to the head in a football scrimmage.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all 50 states and the District of Columbia passed laws addressing traumatic brain injury between 2009 and 2014. Most targeted youth concussions.
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