Update (March 10, 2016): Senate Bill 234 passed the House on Thursday by a unanimous vote. The bill is now headed to the governor for his signature.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Feb. 29, 2016)- A bill with the goal of making sports safer for Indiana student athletes is one step closer to becoming a law. The proposal making its way through the statehouse right now would expand Indiana’s concussion law.
It would require stronger protocol for all athletes and coaches starting in fifth grade, and not just for football.
Senate Bill 234 passed committee Tuesday and now moves for a vote before the full House.
Michael Duerson has been a strong proponent of the bill from the start. Michael's brother, Dave Duerson, grew up in Muncie and was a standout football player for the Chicago Bears. However, in 2011 he committed suicide. Neurological tests revealed CTE in his brain. The disease has been linked to head trauma in former NFL players.
"I found myself removed from the workforce because the government ruled me as gravely mentally disabled," said Duerson.
Michael lives with the lasting effects of a concussion he received while playing basketball for IUPUI. Following Dave's death, Michael started the Dave Duerson Athletic Safety Fund, Inc. The organization educates central Indiana students on concussion safety and awareness.
The legislation would require all coaches beginning in fifth grade to attend a player safety course. Student athletes must sit for at least 24-hours if a concussion is detected and get checked by a specialist.
"The more immature your brain is, the more likely you are to have concussion and perhaps a concussion that can have lasting effects," said Dr. Terry Horner, Indiana Sports Concussion Network.
Dr. Horner, a neurosurgeon who works with the Colts and IU football, says the current law is weak as is. However, if the bill passes,he is confident concussion education will improve for parents and coaches while increasing player safety.
"These kids are more vulnerable than the high school kids," said Dr. Horner.