No opponents lined up to testify against a bill requiring schools remove students from participating in athletics if they show signs of a concussion. A long line of supporters spoke for well over an hour during a Friday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 112 would require medical clearance before the student who received the concussion could start playing school sports again. The bill, sponsored by Senator Anders Blewett (D-Great Falls) is being called the “Dylan Steigers protection of Youth Athletes Act.”
22 year-old Dylan Steigers was an Easter Oregon University football player who died from a concussion in 2010. Steigers was from Missoula. The Helena Independent Record reports he had received multiple concussions before the one which ultimately took his life.
“We have before us an opportunity to prevent injuries we know are going to occur, to reduce the risks,” Blewett said. The bill requires each Montana school district adopt a policy regarding the dangers of concussions. Coaches would be provided with information on how to recognize concussions.
“It does take appropriate training to deal with this injury,” said Billings sports medicine physician Benjamin Phipps. He says those with a concussion may show symptoms that require management years after the injury.
Concussion survivor Julia Hammond says she suffered a severe brain injury at 15 years-old when she was snowboarding with friends in 1999, “and my parents basically had a kindergartner on their hands,” she said about her mental state following the accident. She said recovery was a long and painful ordeal.
Senator Art Wittich (R-Bozeman) worries this could create new types of litigation or charges of negligence against schools.
The Senate Judiciary committee did not take action on the bill Friday.