If state lawmakers approve House Bill 204 high school athletes and anyone under 18 who suffers a concussion will need medical clearance in order to continue playing. Nita Smith of Clearfield is executive director of Phoenix Services, a support group for people with brain injuries. She has been lobbying for the bill and she says it would require amateur adult sports organizations to create concussion policies. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Wednesday, Smith said seven people a day are affected by a brain injury in Utah. Her own daughter fell out of a swing at the age of 18 months and received a severe brain injury that left her in a coma for five days. She says it often takes time to learn there is a concussion. “They are diagnosed with attention deficit disorders and contact disorders and bipolar disorders,” Smith explained, “which may in fact be so, but may also be manifestations of an early brain injury that wasn’t diagnosed and treated. So we say a lot about that.” She’s been lobbying for passage of the bill because she says people need to know a concussion is a brain injury and this is a serious issue. “Young people go back into play and young brains are more readily damaged and have more severe damage with subsequent injuries. So it’s huge to identify a problem and get a kid out of play until his brain has stabilized and healed again. Then he, or she, goes on to live a normal life again.” Smith says the bill before the legislature would require amateur adult sports organizations to create concussion policies and also deals with prevention and treatment of brain injuries. Smith said the bill is well written because it says organizations need to have policies and parents need to be informed. She says a coach may know about other sports injuries but only parents may know about skateboard, bicycle or other incidents that may have caused head injuries needing attention.
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