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Gov. Deal signs historic Return-to-Play concussion law

8:56 PM, Apr 23, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Governor to sign concussion bill

  • Governor Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) speaks at concussion bill signing
  • Concussion victim Tyler Alcala, 12 (family photo)
  • Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) with concussion victims Camryn Johns (left) and Tyler Alcala (right), both 12
  • Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) signs Return-to-Play concussion law

ATLANTA -- "I didn't black out completely, but I was kinda seeing stars a little bit," Tyler Alcala told 11 Alive on Tuesday.

Stars and black flashes are how the 12-year-old described her vision after a ball hit her in the back of the head during a lacrosse clinic on February 9th.

Resource Guide | CHOA Launches Online Portal for Concussion Awareness

She ended up at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite Hospital which treats more than a thousand concussion cases a year.

After hers was confirmed, Tyler missed a month-and-a-half of class and fun.

"I can't go to school, you can't be on your phone, no TV and no computer, so life was hard," she said.

The sixth grader returned to Scottish Rite on Tuesday along with 12-year-old Camryn Johns, who suffered a concussion playing soccer.

Both got to meet Governor Nathan Deal.

They were in the audience as he signed HB 284, the Return-to-PLay Act of 2013.

It requires public and private schools and athletic leagues to provide a concussion warning form to parents before their children can play organized sports.

It also requires a young player showing signs of a concussion to be taken out of a game and not to return until cleared by a medical professional.

RESOURCE GUIDE | CHOA Launches Online Portal for Concussion Awareness

Children's Healthcare treated more than 1,400 concussion patients last year, one third more than the year before.

They said the increase isn't necessarily bad.

"As more kids are playing sports, those collision sports, we're gonna see more, but I think the main reason is public awareness; people are now aware of the injury of concussion," said Dr. David Marshall, Director of Sports Medicine for Children's Healthcare.

Marshal told 11 Alive news repeat head injuries before the first one is healed could be "catastrophic, sometimes fatal".

Governor Deal said, "Even the mildest bump or blow to the head can lead to a concussion; I am proud to sign this bill that serves to protect Georgia's young athletes from sustaining very serious injuries if the condition goes unnoticed or untreated."

Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay also lobbied heavily for the bill.

"The NFL has tried to take a lead role in trying to get these types of legislations passed in various states, so for us it's very important," McKay told 11 Alive.

Concussion victim Tyler Alcala said she's getting better every day.

"I feel great," she said. "I"m almost caught up with my work. It feels good to know I'm better and can get back on track with my life."

She also thinks young athletes and their parents need to be aware of the dangers and the need for a slow recovery.

"They need to really be more cautious about their surroundings and if they do get hit that you need to take it easy so that you can have your cognitive rest that you need," she added.


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