BATON ROUGE (NBC33) — Lawmakers passed the Louisiana Youth Concussion Act Wednesday, a bill that aims to protect kids from life-long brain injuries. Athletes, doctors and advocates packed the House Health and Welfare Committee room to make sure the bill becomes law this session.
On that team is former NFL player and current Saint's ambassador, Michael Lewis. Lewis tells young athletes, "Your health is more important that this sport. This sport can leave at any time, but we are trying to keep you here. that's the most important thing.
Lewis testified before the committee today about how professional players are changing how concussions are treated, and the importance of carrying those standards onto youth leagues.
Neurosurgeon, Dr. Anil Nanda told lawmakers that if not treated properly, concussions have long term affects on children's health.
"It can cause early dementia, difficulty with concentration, difficulty with memory and then things like suicide," says Nanda.
Dr. Aaron Karlin leads Ochsner's Concussion Program and is active on the field to keep kids out of the hospital. He told legislators today that children's brains are different than adults, and at a higher risk of injury from concussions.
"There are certain chemicals that get released to an injured brain. Pediatric or adolescent - the immature brain- might be more susceptible to that and can result in more catastrophic injury," says Karlin.
The bill passed through House and Senate committees unanimously. Now it heads to Governor Jindal's desk to be signed into law.
The new legislation would apply to all sports for both girls and boys. If a coach suspects a player may have a concussion, the player is required to sit out the rest of the game and get cleared by a doctor before returning to play. Awareness and education are the other two major facets of the bill. The outreach includes a television commercial, education packets and online tools to help coaches, volunteers and parents protect children's health. It's all being paid for by private donations and does not call for any taxpayer dollars to be used.
Fr more information on concussions, check out the Center for Disease Control's "Heads Up" program online at www.CDC.gov