Lawmakers are debating a concussion bill that was created to help make children safer and parents smarter.
When Katharine Snedaker watches children take part in athletic activities, she said she sometimes thinks about her son who suffered a head injury during recess.
“He was out of school for three and a half months and then continued to concuss a number of times over the next 13 months, and I couldn't get my son healed,” Snedaker said.
That struggle led Snedaker to start a brain injury non-profit and help Norwalk pass a law that requires parents to receive concussion education before enrolling their children in any sports league that uses public fields.
“It’s no different than having swim lessons for the water...or just CPR...you’re aware of what to do when something happens,” she said.
She was pleased to learn that a proposed state law would require all Connecticut parents to receive similar training because she said it has worked well in Norwalk.
"Even when some kids are cleared, parents have decided ‘you know what…Jonny’s 8 years old, let me just give him a couple more days to rest’,” Snedaker said.
She said she does not support the concussion bill in its entirety because it also includes making towns and the state immune from prosecution, which Snedaker and her friend, brain injury lawyer Paul Slager, said takes the teeth out of the proposal.
"It poses certain requirements on people but then also tells those same people that there are no consequences for failing to meet those same requirements,” Slager said.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Senator Dante Bartolomeo, said the bill is a good step.
It would require parents to sign a form stating they received some kind of concussion education.
Bartolomeo said it would make Connecticut children safer.
"It’s incredibly important that we are protecting them, at least by understanding the signs and the symptoms of a possible concussion,” Bartolomeo said.
The education would come from state materials and parents would have the option to read written documents, watch a video, or attend a meeting.
In a phone interview, the executive director of the Connecticut Schools Association said she fears the law could wind up hurting children with unresponsive parents.
The bill is still in committee.
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