RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia General Assembly has met the issue of high school concussions head on.
Senate bill 652 has passed. The bill requires high school coaches to keep athletes that show signs of a concussion on the bench.
Virginia is one of the first states to adopt such legislation. The bill was introduced by Senator Ralph Northam of Norfolk. Northam is a pediatric neurologist. Two dozen other states are currently considering similar measures.
The new legislation officially takes effect July 1, 2011. Parents and athletes will have to sign a paper stating they acknowledge the danger of concussions. Players who appear to have suffered a concussion will not be allowed back into a game. A licensed health professional will have to see the athlete and clear him to play again.
"We used to call them bell ringers when I was coming along. Back then you were showing how tough you were being able to come back. Actually now we are learning that was really stupid," said VHSL Director Tom Dolan.
The center for injury research and policy found that 40 percent of high school concussion sufferers return to the field to quickly.
"I don't think there is anyone out there saying we are going to be status quo for 2010-11 and wait until July 1. I think it's an item that people know it's important and they are going to do what they need to do to make it work," said Dolan.
The most concussions occur to football and soccer players.