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Legislation aims to curb concussions through education, regulation

TALLAHASSEE — David Goldstein was a freshman on his high school soccer team last year when he was called in to sub during district finals.

It was a dream situation, one he couldn't let go even after colliding head-to-head with another player in the first half. "My hands went to my head, and I knew something wasn't right," he said.

Goldstein played through the second half for Miami's Ransom Everglades and during a scrimmage the next day. He didn't figure out he was probably suffering from a concussion until he could hardly move from the pain. Goldstein says he could have avoided the headaches, nausea and months of hourslong naps during school had he been properly educated about brain injuries and stopped playing.

Now he's on a mission with a batch of state lawmakers, former NFL players and medical experts. They spoke at the Capitol on Tuesday to support a bill that aims to curb concussions in youth sports through education and regulation.

"In the past, it was 'you got your bell rung.' You shake it off and got back in the game," said Rep. Ronald Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, a bill sponsor.

HB 301 and SB 730 would require the Florida High School Athletic Association to remove athletes showing signs of a concussion during a game or practice until they receive clearance from a medical professional.

Students and parents would sign consent forms that explain the risk of concussions, and returning to play too soon, every year before the start of practice or games. These rules would not just apply to FHSAA-governed sports, but to organized youth athletics at government-owned facilities. The FHSAA supports the measure.

National experts estimate 140,000 high school athletes suffer concussions every year. About 40 percent return to play before they have recovered. Repeat concussions can affect mood, social development, memory and worse, Renuart said.

A national poll last fall found that only 8 percent of parents with children ages 12-17 who play school sports have read or heard about the risks of repeat concussions.

Nine states have passed similar bills. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants each state to have a law by 2015, said Kenneth Edmonds, the league's government relations and public policy director.

Goldstein still plays soccer, though only while wearing a rugby helmet. He came to Tallahassee with his parents, Cheryl and Adam, who is president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

"Now I know, and I'm a different player now," he said. "I'm trying to spread that message to as many people as possible."

Legislation aims to curb concussions through education, regulation 02/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 10:19pm]
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