At the end of 2016, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2007 – a bipartisan-supported law that will require youth sports participants undergo the same safety protocols as high school athletes in order to protect them from injury. Fully sponsored by the California Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA) and written by Assemblymember McCarty (D-Sacramento), the law marks an important step forward in closing loopholes in concussion management at the youth sports level, says Mike Chisar, governmental affairs committee chair for the CATA.
“Concussions can happen at any age, so it’s imperative that proper prevention strategies and post injury protocols be observed at the youth sports level,” said Chisar. “This law is a step in the right direction, and coincides with CATA’s ongoing efforts to protect all athletes and physically active individuals.”
Sports-related concussions became a national topic when Dr. Bennett Omalu – the bill’s lead witness and an epidemiologist at UC Davis – reported on the results of an examination of the brain of a former football player. After consistent blows to the head and body during practices and games, the player suffered from impaired brain function.
Like professional and high school athletes, young athletes expose themselves to the same types of serious injuries on the playing field, with a recent study by the Medical Journal of Pediatrics finding that youth soccer concussions and head injuries have increased 1,600 percent between 1990 and 2014.
According to the CDC, repeat concussions in young athletes can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage and even death. And studies have shown the earlier athletes are concussed, the more predisposed they are to suffer additional concussions.
“Sports are embedded in our culture and we must ensure that our youth athletes, coaches and parents are aware of the severity of a concussion,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “This legislation will guarantee that all participants involved in youth sports are aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and take appropriate steps to prevent serious injury.”
The bill took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.