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Concussion Legislation Update

February 22, 2011, 6:05 PM by Kelli Grant

Concussion Legislation Update
HARRISBURG, SD - It's a bill supporters say would save kid's brains. But some say the South Dakota legislation to better protect athletes who have concussions shouldn't apply to all teams.

When you think of a concussion, football likely comes to mind. But the injuries happen all the time and in many other sports. It's something the Harrisburg boy’s basketball team knows all about.

They're changing direction, changing speed; injuries are bound to happen on the basketball court.

“You see it in all facets. You see the knee to the head, you see the floor to the head. You know it happens so fast," coach Scott Langerock said.

A Harrisburg boy's basketball player recently suffered a concussion and was pulled from play; a move Langerock says had to be made.

“Hey if you have one now, it's pretty easy to get another one if you're not careful with it. So let's take our time. You know it's a long season, there's a lot of playing time out there yet so let's just be careful and take it one step at a time,” Langerock said.

But if Senate Bill 149 passes, it would no longer require all teams to educate coaches, players and parents. Lawmakers have made some changes so it now only applies to high school sanctioned sports. It's education many school trainers already have.

“With concussions, it's really symptom-driven and what their symptoms are. For one kid it may be a week. For another kid it may be several weeks,” Kyle Wiebesiek said.

Which is why certified athletic trainer, Wiebesiek is there to help Langerock make those calls.

“It's certainly hard to tell a kid, whatever the injury is, you know you're gonna miss some time because all kids wanna play. And not just the kids. The coaches get disappointed, the parents get disappointed,” Wiebesiek said.

Without guidelines, that disappointment could mean the difference between letting a brain heal or letting an athlete stay in the game.

And for a team that's already following the guidelines in the proposed legislation, both coach and athletic trainer agree more education is needed.

“When you get into those smaller communities I think having a law that kind of reinforces that with people that maybe don't have that access will hopefully prevent these things from turning into bad occurrences for these kids,” Wiebesiek said.

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