Senate Bill No. 340
(By Senators Stollings, Kessler (Mr. President), Unger, Klempa and Plymale)
[Originating in the Committee on Education;
reported February 1, 2012.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-2-25a, relating to defining “youth athletes”; requiring the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission to promulgate rules that address concussions and head injuries in youth athletes; setting forth minimum provisions to be included in the rules; and exempting volunteer health care provider from liability in certain instances.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-2-25a, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-2-25a. Management of concussions and head injuries in youth sports.
(a) The Legislature finds:
(1) Concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities. The centers for disease control and prevention estimates that as many as three million nine hundred thousand sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year;
(2) A concussion is caused by a blow or motion to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. The risk of catastrophic injuries or death are significant when a concussion or head injury is not properly evaluated and managed;
(3) Concussions are a type of brain injury that can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works;
(4) Concussions can occur in any organized or unorganized sport or recreational activity and can result from a fall or from players colliding with each other, the ground or with obstacles;
(5) Concussions occur with or without loss of consciousness, but the vast majority occur without loss of consciousness; and
(6) Continuing to play or practice with a concussion or symptoms of head injury leaves the young athlete especially vulnerable to greater injury and even death. The Legislature recognizes that, despite having generally recognized return to play and practice standards for concussion and head injury, some affected youth athletes are prematurely returned to play or practice resulting in actual or potential physical injury or death to youth athletes in the State of West Virginia.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “youth athlete” means any athlete under the age of eighteen that is participating in interscholastic athletics at a high school or middle school that is a member of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission.
(c) The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission shall promulgate rules pursuant to section twenty-five of this article that address concussions and head injuries in youth athletes: Provided, That prior to state board approval and notwithstanding the exemption provided in section three, article one, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, the state board shall submit the rule to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability pursuant to section nine, article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. The rules required by this section shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Guidelines, other pertinent information and forms, as appropriate, shall be developed to inform and educate coaches, youth athletes and their parents or guardians of the nature and risk of concussion and head injury including continuing to play or practice after a concussion or head injury;
(2) On a yearly basis, a concussion and head injury information sheet shall be signed and returned by the youth athlete and the athlete's parent or guardian before the youth athlete's initiating practice or competition;
(3) A youth athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in a practice or game shall be removed from competition at that time; and
(4) A youth athlete who has been removed from play or practice may not return to play or practice until the athlete is evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and receives written clearance to return to play and practice from that licensed health care provider. The health care provider may be a volunteer. A volunteer who authorizes a youth athlete to return to play and practice is not liable for civil damages resulting from any act or omission in the rendering of such care, other than acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. For the purposes of this section, a licensed health care provider shall be a medical doctor licensed under the provisions of article three, chapter thirty of this code, a doctor of osteopathy licensed under the provisions of article fourteen, chapter thirty of this code, an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under the provisions of article seven, chapter thirty of this code, a physicians assistant as licensed under the provisions of article three, chapter thirty of this code and a licensed certified athletic trainer licensed under article twenty-a, chapter thirty of this code.