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Ohio lawmakers taking steps to protect young athletes from head injuries

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - With more evidence about the dangers of concussions and head injuries, Ohio lawmakers are taking legislative steps to protect young athletes.

Between 2002 and 2010 emergency room visits for sports related head injuries for young athletes more than doubled.

According to the Ohio Dept of Health, the new law would require coaches and officials to remove a player from a game or practice who is showing symptoms of a concussion or head injury.

Dr. Stephanie Kopey, who conducts clinics on concussions and consults with a number of area schools, says the earlier this problem is addressed the better.

"It's even more important in the younger ages because the brain is more fragile and developing at that point. I think it's really important that we are bringing this down to the younger ages," Dr. Kopey said.

The young player who is showing symptoms would not be allowed to return until being assessed and cleared by a doctor.

Dr. Kopey says that down time is important "because it's the damage that's done during the time that the brain is recovering from the concussion that is the biggest problem."

High school coaches and athletic directors support the new rules aimed at protecting the younger players early on.

"I think it's an outstanding move. Any extension of OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) policies down below the varsity and to the sub varsity levels can only benefit our varsity programs down the road," said Rob Conklin, Austintown Athletic Director.

A number of Valley schools are now utilizing a program called Impact which tests student athletes to establish an individual baseline that can then be used to evaluate their condition after any injury.

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