Our Opinion: Law creates intelligent approach to concussions

In sports lingo, “getting your bell rung” is a blow that leaves a player disoriented.

In medical terminology, a concussion is a jarring injury of the brain resulting in a disturbance of cerebral function and sometimes marked by permanent damage.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed legislation to help safeguard young athletes from the dangers of concussions.

We supported this proposal during the legislative session and we commend its enactment into law.

Among its provisions, the law requires:

• A youth athlete suspected of suffering a concussion or brain injury must be removed from competition at that time for at least 24 hours.

• The athlete must not return to competition until being evaluated and cleared by a licensed, qualified health care provider.

The law also creates a group of education, sports and health professionals to establish guidelines and educate coaches, young athletes and their parents about brain injuries.

Concussion legislation — in Missouri and other states — consistently has been supported by the National Football League. During the session, NFL official Kenneth Edmonds told lawmakers: “We might not be able to prevent the first concussion, but we can prevent a subsequent concussion. And it’s those subsequent concussions that are more dangerous.”

Among supporters of the bill was state Rep. Jay Barnes, who sponsored a proposal rolled into the final product. After Wednesday’s signing, the Jefferson City representative said: “The safety of our student athletes must be first priority, and this bill will ensure that coaches are equipped to make safe decisions during games and practices.”

“Getting your bell rung” can cause permanent brain damage.

The new law establishes a sensible, statewide standard to protect young athletes from the impact of concussions.

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