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Contact: Adam Joseph
860-240-8641

April 22, 2010

Looney, Gaffey Hail Today’s Senate Vote for Bill to Protect Student-Athletes From Concussions

New Haven Schools’ Athletic Director Lends Support

State Senator Thomas P. Gaffey (D-Meriden), long-standing co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, today helped win unanimous Senate passage of SB456: An Act Concerning Student athletes and Concussions. Senator Gaffey thanked Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) for his leadership on the issue and for his stewardship of this bill throughout the legislative process.

“One of the primary goals of this bill is to help coaches and trainers realized the serious long-term risks of repeated head injuries and to that end recognize the signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion so the student-athlete can be properly diagnosed,” Senator Gaffey said. “Furthermore, the bill would require those with suspected concussions to sit out the remainder of same-day play and then receive medical clearance before returning to play.

Recent studies suggest concussions among high school athletes have increased by as much as 25 percent over the past few years. Senator Gaffey said more and more of them return to play too soon, and according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, a staggering number—an estimated 16 percent—of football players who lose consciousness due to a concussion return to play the same day.

“National statistics indicate that more than 40 percent of high school athletes who suffer concussions return to play before it is safe to do so,” said Senator Looney. “This bill should have an immediate impact on the health and safety of student-athletes in Connecticut.”

The legislation now advances to the House of Representatives for its consideration. Senator Gaffey said if the bill—dubbed the ‘when in doubt, sit it out’ initiative—should be enacted, Connecticut would join just two other states with comprehensive laws on the issue. Washington and Oregon both enacted comparable laws just last year, he said.

“Guarding the health and safety of our student-athletes is the primary mission of the New Haven Public Schools Athletics Department. The passing of the "concussion bill" will legislate for the proper care of all student-athletes with possible head trauma. This bill will also promote the discussion and education of head injuries with school based medical staff, coaches, teachers, parents, athletics directors and school administrators,” said Joe Canzanella, Citywide Athletics Director for New Haven City Schools. “The New Haven Public Schools Athletics Department (coaches and support staff) supports the spirit and intent of this cutting edge legislation.”

“As we review current practices regarding sports-related head injuries and pursue a sensible approach to mitigating what could be lifelong aftereffects, we must remember that interscholastic sports are simply meant to supplement academics,” Senator Gaffey added. “Student athletes must be given every opportunity to step back and completely heal from all serious injuries before they resume playing and this public policy proposal reflects these priorities.”

Senator Gaffey is serving his eighth term in the General Assembly. In addition to his responsibility for the Education Committee he is vice-chair of the Select Committee on Aging. He serves on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding and Legislative Management Committees as well.

Senator Looney has served in the General Assembly since 1981. He has been Senate Majority Leader since 2003.

 

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