New concussions bill aims to make high school football safer

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- There are now rules for high school players in South Carolina who may have suffered a concussion. Gov. Nikki Haley signed a new bill that is supposed to protect young athletes from back-to-back concussions.

"It protects one of the most important assets we have in our community, which is our youth and our children," said state Rep. Peter McCoy.

According to the new bill, if a player shows any signs of a concussion, they will be pulled from the game.

"The loss of consciousness and severe head injuries are not that common, but the definition of concussion incorporates a lot more than that: headaches, nausea, vomiting and kids will have trouble in school sometimes afterwards," said Dr. Avery Buchholz, Neurological Surgery, Sports Concussion Team.

The player will then be required to stay off the field until getting cleared by a doctor.

"There is a return-to-play protocol which is a series of increased activity with no symptoms over six days to get a player back on the field, so anyone diagnosed with a concussion has to go through the return to play, complete all steps and be seen and cleared by a physician," Buchholz said.

The goal is to stay safe on the field, but in football the one-on-one contact is unavoidable.

"A concussion itself is not that bad but avoiding a second concussion when the brain is still healing is the important part so being able to manage these now effectively is really going to help," Buchholz said.

Some of the long-term effects for former athletes with concussions have been problems in school, difficulty concentrating, even personality changes.

South Carolina is the 48th state to pass a law on concussions in sports for youth and/or high school athletes. West Virginia and Mississippi have yet to pass a similar bill.

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