New law: parents required to sign a consent form

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New law: parents required to sign a consent form

Postby Resident » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:46 am

Parents are required to sign a consent for athlete to return to play after concussion ... first-step

It's doubtful we've heard the last of Lauren Caruso, the former Timberlane Regional High athlete whose concussion four years ago has made lawmakers listen.

Caruso's speech yesterday, when Senate Bill 402 was signed into law by Gov. John Lynch, told us she's not done fighting.

The statute protecting student athletes led to the usual photo ops and backslapping, but a central question surfaced and never really went away.

Does the law go far enough?

"Though all of us are very grateful to have this New Hampshire concussion law, many believe that this is only the first step," Caruso read from her prepared statement. "I hope to be a participant in the next tier of concussion legislation in efforts to strengthen this law to include lower grades and rec sports."

The statute makes it official, stating that a high school student removed from a game because of a suspected concussion can not return without signed authorization by a parent and a trained medical professional.

That's new, and certainly a positive step.

But there's no mention of middle school athletes or grade school athletes or recreation league athletes.

That's what Caruso and the bill's primary sponsor, Sen. Matthew Houde, a Democrat from Meriden, sought early this year, when they first raised the issue in the Legislature.

"The scope has changed," Houde said after the ceremony. "Initially, it was all youth sports, from the time you start playing until the time you leave. Now the scope is high school, so this is something that I consider as a first step. It's a great first step."

Houde, Caruso and her mother, Jennifer, presented Caruso's story to both the House Education and Health and Human Services committees, explaining how a concussion suffered during lacrosse practice four years ago changed Caruso's life.

Caruso doesn't remember what happened that day, when, as a freshman playing varsity, her career looked so bright.

All she recalls is a tough drill and crying on the ground, her teammates gathered around her. Jennifer and her husband, Paul, had no idea what lay ahead.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body of high school athletics, followed National Federation rules back then, meaning there was no state law pertaining to concussions, and a parental signature was not needed for an athlete to return from one.

Only "medical clearance from an appropriate health care professional" was mentioned in the NHIAA handbook, and a definition of "health care professional" was not spelled out.

But there would be no clearance. Not in this case. Not for Caruso.

Paul and Jennifer watched their daughter cry on the couch, forget things, lose focus and miss school.

And this was the toughest of their four children, the one who fell out of an apple tree at about age 7 and never complained, despite two broken arms.

"As the months started to turn into years, we realized that this wasn't just a trivial accident," Paul said. "You think, how long can it take?"

Lauren's athletic career was over, and she had to attend classes part time and take courses online to earn her degree.

"She was missing her high school years," Paul said. "She'd go in part time and realize everyone was changing and growing up."

Then Caruso started setting goals, rather than scoring them. She spoke at the Legislative Office Building, unsure of her ability to articulate but determined to show the Health and Human Services Committee that her state should join the 33 others that had put something on the books.
Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a Democrat from Manchester, wondered why.

"Everything is a struggle here," he said. "It made such common sense, how could anyone be against it? We have some contrarians in the Legislature who don't want any oversight over anything, and that's very problematic."

To which Rep. Ralph Boehm, Republican from Litchfield, said. "Do we have a law for taking care of broken arms? I mean, how far do we want to go in making laws for injuries?"

He continued: "That's why last year I spoke against the bill for making a study committee. When everyone in the world is studying it, why do we, the state, need to have a study committee?"

A compromise, though, was reached, with the law pertaining to high school students and no one else.

Chris Couture, a sports medicine doctor in Merrimack who cared for Caruso shortly after her concussion, attended yesterday's signing. He said the event was a public relations coup, then added, "It's a good first step, and more work needs to be done."

Said Rep. June Frazer, a Democrat from Concord, "It was a much better bill before it was amended. It's been weakened, but it's still a very strong step forward."

That recurring theme, the one about unfinished business, didn't stop Caruso from smiling after her speech.

She feels much better these days. She went on a three-mile walk the other day and climbed part of Saddleback Mountain in Maine, activities that were unthinkable just six months ago.

She'll study nursing at UMass Lowell in the fall.

Her major?

The lacrosse practice four years ago may help her decide.

"I'm thinking of neurology," Caruso said. "I find it interesting now. I'm looking forward to the future, and I think some good will come my way after all this."
The Senate went along, but the House resisted, questioning if change was needed.
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Re: New law: parents required to sign a consent form

Postby safety frog » Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:36 pm

Great work and good job! Having three young atheletes/students that have suffered concussions, a lot more needs to be done to educate the children, parents, teachers and coaches till people learn that getting your "bell rung" is not a good thing and can be very dangerous.

I can remember a game after my son had a suffered a concussion in the game, the coach at TRHS tried to send him back on the field to play and he had no idea where he was at the time it happened.
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