NC Bill Would Let Parents Clear Kids for Play | Athletic Business

NC Bill Would Let Parents Clear Kids for Play

A bill supported by lawmakers in North Carolina would give parents the power to determine when a child who has suffered a concussion is fit to return to play, without the input of a qualified medical professional.

The current regulations outlined by the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act require any student-athlete showing signs of concussion to be removed immediately from the field. The law was signed into effect 2011, after long consultation with state medical associations, including the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina and the North Carolina Medical Society.

The proposed bill, HB116, contains safety initiatives that correspond in many ways to the measures already in place with Gfeller-Waller, including required concussion safety training for school athletics staff.

However, HB116 makes a potentially dangerous break from current law in negating section 3b of Gfeller-Waller, which protects student-athletes at the high school level and below by requiring clearance to compete from a physician, neuropsychologist, nurse practitioner or certified athletic trainer.

In an interview with Vocativ, Dr. Katie Flanagan, director of athletic training at East Carolina University, was careful not to speak too strongly against the bill. “I’ll preface by saying I’m not a parent,” she said, “but I don’t believe HB 116 is in the best interest of the athletes.”

Flanagan, a 37-year veteran of the medical field, supports the intent of the law, and praised the initiative to build a database to house an extensive collection of catastrophic injury facts and statistics. She also warned that even informed parents could let bias compromise a child’s health.

Flanagan is holding on to hope that the construction of the law in not complete, and that lawmakers will continue to consider the counsel of medical professionals. “If these gentlemen and women wanted to get on some sort of national bill working with the health and safety people that are already in place, that would be amazing,” she said.

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