Protecting student athletes from concussions

Just as rules against helmet-to-helmet contact are helping to protect professional football players from head injuries, scholastic athletes in Pennsylvania deserve new safeguards to prevent concussions and assure injured players get enough time to heal.

The good news is that two Harrisburg lawmakers last week renewed efforts to do just that. The not-so-good news is that the state Senate, for whatever reason, took a pass last year on enacting new public-health measures designed to shield young players from potentially life-altering brain injuries on the field.

Fortunately, the sponsors of this effort, State Sen. Pat Browne (R., Lehigh) and State Rep. Tim Briggs (D., Montgomery), last week returned with companion bills. Like measures passed in New Jersey and several other states, their legislation would mandate that student athletes and parents receive detailed information about concussions.

In addition, players believed to have suffered a concussion would have to be cleared to return by a trained medical professional.

Without question, this would be a good step to promote further recognition of a widespread problem that has been ignored or misunderstood for years.

The daunting scope of the problem — with an estimated 3.8 million sports-related head injuries annually, and more than 150,000 in Pennsylvania alone — demands action.

The state’s senators should get back in the game on this issue. The safety of kids is on the line.