State lawmakers consider youth sports concussion bill

State lawmakers consider youth sports concussion bill
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When you think of concussions, your mind might go straight to football, but state lawmakers are trying to change that through a new Senate bill focused on concussions in youth sports.

Senate Bill 5238 calls for the University of Washington Medicine Sports Health and Safety Institute and the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center to collect and distribute research on youth concussions and how to best recognize and prevent them. The bill would require UW Medicine to publish and maintain a website making that research available to parents.

Local physical therapist Craig Stephens tells KXLY he’s been in the field for 25 years and over time, he’s seen a bigger focus on concussions in youth sports.

“Before it was ‘you got your bell rung,’ ‘you hit your head,’ ‘lets see if you can play, if you can play, great,” he says.

Lawmakers are trying to bust the myths that boys who play football are the only athletes getting concussions. They point to several studies which show girls are more prone to concussions than boys and those injuries aren’t just seen in football.

“We see it across the board in all sports. Probably the only sport I’m not seeing it in is chess,” Stephens says. “We see a lot of concussions now involving soccer. Girls these days, their sports are getting more competitive. They’re definitely more aggressive.”

No one knows that more than Emma Knudson. Concussions claimed her high school soccer career when she suffered two over the course of a year while playing at University High School.

“You’re in a haze, kind of. You can tell that you’re definitely out of it,” she says. “I didn’t think that it would ever happen to me, just because, you think that you’re being safe but you know, in any sport, anything can happen.”

Both Stephens and Knudson agree Senate Bill 5238 is a step in the right direction, but there’s still more to be done.

“We need more personnel in the field first of all. It’s hard for a coach who’s coaching a game to recognize concussions,” says Stephens. “We can’t expect them to coach and diagnose concussions at the same time. We need more personnel in the field.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Ways and Means committee for review.

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