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Concussions are among the most common sport- and recreation-related injuries reported in children and adolescents, and aggregate concussion cases number some 3.9 million per year throughout the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
During the last legislative session, the Georgia House of Representatives set out to reduce the concussion rate among youth athletes with its House Bill 673, Georgia's Return to Play Act of 2012. Had the act passed from the House to the Senate, it would have required coaches to enroll in an annual concussion recognition class and remove immediately from play an athlete who suffers concussion symptoms. The act would also have required parents to read and acknowledge receipt of an information sheet about the seriousness of the injury.
Although the Return to Play Act did not pass into law last session, the issue of concussions among youth athletes remains an important one. When concussions go unrecognized, youth athletes risk suffering chronic ailments, such as sleep irregularities, memory loss and sluggishness.
If you're a coach, parent or guardian, you can help protect youth athletes from permanent concussion-related damage by recognizing symptoms as early as possible. Symptoms may not be obvious right away, so you should monitor your athlete or child closely for unexpected changes in behavior. Keep in mind as well that you should offer youth athletes enough time to recover, and recovery may take a few days, weeks or even months.