Tennessee concussion law takes effect for young athletes

Tennessee concussion law takes effect for young athletes

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By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With the new year comes a long list of brand new state laws.

One of those going into effect Wednesday in Tennessee is the new concussion law for athletes in school and community sports programs.

The law is aimed at protecting young athletes from the injury.

As of late, more and more attention has been placed upon the safety of young athletes, specifically when it comes to head injuries.

Tennessee's new law is taking that attention one step further.

It applies to school and community athletics in which most players are 18 years and under.

The law requires all sports programs to inform parents, coaches and the athletes themselves about the risks and symptoms of concussions.

"I've got an 8-year-old who actually started his little league career two years ago. So as a parent, I would like to know the risks that are associated up front," said Eric Woodard, an assistant football coach at Knoxville's Grace Christian Academy.

Woodard says he's in favor of the new law and thinks it will help ensure the safety of his players.

The law mandates that athletes must be immediately pulled from games for evaluation if they show any signs of a concussion.

"Obviously, you want to get the attention to the kid as soon as you can, as with any injury," said Woodard. "There's no need in taking the chance with one more hit or anything like that."

Those athletes will not be allowed to return to games or to practice until they clear a medical evaluation.

"It keeps everybody in check and makes you accountable for the safety of your kids," said Woodard.

In addition to complying with the new law, GCA's football program has changed its practice style over the last year to involve less impact.

"Like all the experts say, it's all the little hits that build up so we try to minimize that all week during practice," said Woodard.

They also added a mandatory screening with a trainer after any player has or is suspected of having a concussion.

"We had to use it a couple times last year and it worked out really good," said Woodard.

The law also requires coaches to take a concussion and head injury course once a year to help them recognize the signs.

To view the law in its entirety, visit the state legislature's website.

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