South Dakota lawmakers tackle student-athlete concussions - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

South Dakota lawmakers tackle student-athlete concussions

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NORTH SIOUX CITY, South Dakota (KTIV) - Athletes and injuries seem to go hand in hand.  Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a bruise is a just a bruise, or something more.

A new South Dakota law will help athletes, coaches, and parents be able to know the difference.

With the pressure to perform, knowing when to bow out of the game can be a tough call, even when pain is involved.

"That's the nature of sports is there's always a chance that there will be an injury," said Dakota Valley activities director Bill Clements.

That's why the Dakota Valley School District's taking extra precautions to test for concussions. If the coach or athlete suspects a concussion, the athlete must go through a series of tests.

"Memory, knowledge and reaction of the athletes," Clements said.

Staff then compares the results to tests taken before the start of the season, and then...

"Continue to re-test until all of the signs are normal for them to get back to competition," Clements said.

Now, South Dakota lawmakers are taking a cue from Dakota Valley and cracking down on concussions. Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 149 in the just-completed legislative session.

"You can have long-term brain damage from concussions if you're not taken out of the game to recoup," said Rep. Dan Lederman (R) Dakota Dunes.

The new law requires parents and athletes to sign a waiver after they've received information on concussions... it educates coaches and staff before every season... and now requires collaboration between coaches, athletes, and medical professionals... before an athlete can return to the court or field.

"You don't have to be hit in the head to have a concussion. You can have a severe enough hit to the body that it can cause damage to the brain," Lederman said.

If neglected, concussions can lead to long-term brain damage or even death. Even though they're not as apparent as a broken arm or leg... they're just as serious.

"If they're in doubt, sit 'em out," Lederman said.

Senator Dan Lederman says nine other states have similar legislation, and that Iowa is also considering it.

Online Reporter: Zach Tecklenburg

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