CHICAGO (CN) – A bill signed into law by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday requires the state’s school boards to adopt measures protecting student athletes from head injuries.
The Protecting Our Student Athletes Act makes Illinois the 28th state to adopt a version of Zachery Lystedt Law, named for a Washington teen who suffered brain injury while playing football in 2006.
The act includes a host of provisions aimed primarily at educating the public about the risks of sports-related head injuries.
“Concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities,” the act states. “The General Assembly recognizes that, despite having generally recognized return-to-play standards for concussions and head injuries, some affected youth athletes are prematurely returned to play, resulting in actual or potential physical injury or death to youth athletes in this state.”
Quinn, who played football in high school, applauded the legislation as an important measure for protecting students.
“I can remember coaches saying after somebody got hurt, ‘Are you man enough to go back in or not?” he said. “These days, adults have to make sure they are guardians of the health of their athletes. We have to really address that.”
The act amends Illinois School Code, requiring school boards to adopt concussion policies in compliance with the Illinois High School Association. Additionally, concussion warnings must now also be included as part of any agreement or contract that student athletes or parents are required to sign before participating in practices or games.
The act also mandates providing educational materials to coaches, student athletes, and parents, including at the elementary school level.
Park district facilities will also provide visitors with concussion-related pamphlets and other materials.
“It’s very important that we understand that concussions aren’t just treated by spitting a little tobacco juice on it and going on,” Quinn said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says sports are the leading cause of brain injury among 15- to 24-year-olds, estimating that as many as 3.9 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year.
The law takes effect immediately.