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Year Two of Cooley bill to protect young athletes | Community

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Year Two of Cooley bill to protect young athletes
Year Two of Cooley bill to protect young athletes

In year two of Cooley bill to protect young athletes,

Concussion and U.S. Soccer bring spotlight back to adolescent brain injury       

Rancho Cordova – On July 21, 2014, Assemblyman Ken Cooley’s AB 2127 was signed into law to address high school football brain injury concerns, but importantly also strengthened the rules by which concussions experienced by all high school athletes are handled, regardless of sport.

The bill’s provisions were developed by the California Interscholastic Federation—which oversees competitive high school sports for 1,540 California schools—and their Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. AB 2127 seeks to reduce brain injuries and concussions among California’s middle and high school football players by limiting “full-contact” practice time. It also ensures any student-athlete with a brain injury does not return to the playing field too soon by requiring them to complete a gradual and supervised return-to-play protocol of no fewer than seven days.

On Christmas Day, Concussion, a film starring Will Smith, debuted. Concussion tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian born pathologist, who, while working at the University of Pittsburgh, diagnosed the first case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in former Pittsburgh Steeler’s football player Mike Webster.  As Dr. Omalu continued his research, he faced aggressive and arduous opposition from the NFL. Dr. Omalu now serves as chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County and works as a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Due to his research, he and others subsequently posthumously diagnosed dozens of former professional, collegiate, and high school football players with CTE. It has been demonstrated by Dr. Omalu and other academics that CTE is caused by the cumulative effects of many concussive and sub-concussive hits to the brain.

“It was Dr. Omalu’s research, and the PBS documentary League of Denial that initially cued me to the risks of sub-concussive hits in high school football,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “This doesn’t only affect NFL players, but college and high school football players have been diagnosed with CTE and so we’ve acted to limit full-contact practices in order to reduce blows to the head and better protect our young athletes.”

AB 2127 has now been in effect just over one year. It prohibits “full-contact” football practices during the off-season and limits them to two (2) per week during the pre-season and regular season, for no more than 90 minutes in a single day and institutes a supervised return-to-play protocol for student-athletes diagnosed with a concussion or brain injury.

“It has been a great step forward in minimizing risk and reducing injuries in California’s student-athletes, but we must continue to listen to the medical experts as the science of concussions continues to evolve,” said CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake.

Additionally, in November 2015, the United States Soccer Federation announced that it would prohibit players younger than 11 on U.S. Soccer youth national teams and academies from heading the ball, and would reduce headers for those aged 11 to 13. Soccer, and especially women’s soccer, produces a large number of concussions. Since they are still developing their neck muscles, adolescents are especially susceptible to experiencing these greater impacts to the skull and brain. Importantly, AB 2127’s return-to-play protocol applies to all high school and middle school athletes diagnosed with a concussion, regardless of sport, and thus already applies to soccer, lacrosse, and more.

“I am pleased with our progress in advancing common sense reforms,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “However, we need to continue to protect our student-athletes by utilizing the best available science. I applaud Concussion for keeping focus on the important research and the athletes at-risk in this public health conversation.”

Assemblyman Ken Cooley represents the 8th Assembly District which includes the communities of Arden-Arcade, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Rancho Murieta, Rosemont, Wilton and other portions of unincorporated Sacramento County.   For more information, please visit http://asmdc.org/members/a08/

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