New law in Illinois regarding concussions and athletes

A new law that recently went into effect in Illinois is designed to help student athletes recover from a concussion without having to worry about getting back into practice or a game too soon.

The measure, signed by Governor Pat Quinn at the end of July, requires any high school student that is suspected of suffering from a concussion be checked by a certified medical professional.

The law also requires schools to join the Illinois High School Association in developing guidelines and educational materials for coaches, students and staff.

The IHSA is also requiring sports officials to undergo training to recognize the signs and symptoms of a someone who has suffered a concussion.

The worry among medical professionals, school administrators, coaches, players and parents is that student athletes are returning to a game or practice too soon after suffering a blow to the head to to the body that produces enough force to have the person sustain a concussion.

Q uincy High School head football coach Rick Little sees this year a little different then in previous years when it comes to making sure his players aren't rushed back onto the field quicker then they're allowed if they've suffered a concussion.

That's because a new law in Illinois requires all student athletes to be cleared by a medical professional before they can play again. That's something that Coach Little didn't take into consideration when he played high school football.

" It's just one of those things when I played and even before that. I think it was one of those things that we probably didn't do it the right way. We probably neglected that area and it was one of those things you, if it hurt you sat out. If it hurt a lot you sat out and if it hurt a little, you stayed in and continued to battle ," said Little.

But that battle isn't there anymore with trying to keep kids playing when they're suffered a concussion.

Medical studies show that repeat concussions and getting back out on the field too soon, can pose a risk of the young man or woman suffering permanent brain damage. But for some players who were on the field today, they say taking the proper precautions is what it's all about.

" We do a good job at staying safe. Doing things we need to do to keep safe on the field with each other ," said senior Jordan Zanger.

We also spoke with Aaron Clark, an athletic trainer with Quincy Medical Group.

He said, "whenever kids or young athletes are out here playing they're still growing and neurologically they're still not fully developed. We can cause more damage in those kids then we can in our older athletes. So we have to be a little cautious when they're displaying symptoms."

And as part of the concussion bill signed into law by Governor Quinn, it requires all school districts have a concussion awareness form on file signed by all student athletes and their parents.