Concussion safety bill passes in Erie County

Concussion safety law passes in Erie County 10-1

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Erie County legislators signed-off 10-1 Thursday on new requirements for youth contact sport coaches.

The new concussion safety law, co-sponsored by Legislator Patrick Burke (D-District 7) and Legislator Joseph Lorigo (R-District 10) requires coaches, parent supervisors, and officials to complete concussion safety and awareness courses through the state, or face a $100 fine from the county.

“This will be good. Because it will increase awareness,” said Dr. Michael Freitas of UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

“Everyone knows about the NFL and that’s fine, but you don’t typically think of the youth sports and it happens probably more frequently there,” he said.

Dr. Freitas is used to treating youth concussions, but said he should be treating a lot more.

Experts report less than 10 percent of youth concussions actually get diagnosed.

“One of the biggest challenges is proper recognition, that that injury may have happened,” said Barney Walsh, President of Buffalo Bison Hockey Association, a youth hockey league in North Buffalo.

Two time Olympian and Youth Hockey Director for the Buffalo Bison Hockey Association, Shelley Looney, is also for the extra education.

“We as coaches need to be aware of what can occur. We’re no doctors but at the same time we’re watching and observing and taking care of these kids when they’re in our care,” Looney told News 4.

She thinks parents need to be involved in training too.

Buffalo Bison Youth Hockey is a nonprofit association, and separate from school sports. Walsh noted that athletes don’t always keep coaches in the loop about injuries they sustain during their other activities; he feels keeping parents and coaches on the same page is paramount.

It’s not just youth hockey players at risk for concussions, and it’s also not just boys.

“Very high on that list are soccer, men’s and women’s soccer, or boy’s and girl’s. And actually more so in girl’s than opposed to boy’s that play the same sport,” Dr. Freitas said.

According Freitas, that’s likely due to neck strength. Typically girls have less muscle in their neck, and those muscles can ease forces on the brain during impact.

Legislator Lorigo told News 4 both he and Legislator Burke have young children. The more they learned about the long-term dangers of concussions, the more they felt the county needed to take preemptive measures.

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