NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s Katherine Snedaker is praising a new law Connecticut that requires more concussion education for student athletes.
The new law was signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy on May 28 and requires schools to provide concussion education to athletes and parents before students can play sports. It also requires the State Board of Education to develop a concussion education plan and requires local and regional boards of education to compile and report all instances of concussions suffered by students.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Snedaker said of the new law. “This will help bring Connecticut up to the level of most other states.”
Snedaker is a Norwalk mom and social worker who has worked for years to spread awareness and education on concussions. She is the founder of the Concussion Conference, Sports CAPP, and Pink Concussion, as well as an associate member of the National Sports Concussion Coalition and a member of the advisory council for the National Council for Youth Sports Safety.
Requiring schools to report concussions will be essential to addressing the issue, she said.
“Successful programs track injury rates,” Snedaker said. It will help educators know how many kids are suffering from concussions, and whether they’re getting them in games, in practice or in non-sports activities, she said.
Education is also important, she said. Snedaker recently led three concussion conferences at the Quinnipiac School of Medicine and the UConn-Stamford campus, where she and other experts discussed concussions with more than 200 school nurses. This fall, she will plan more seminars with school leaders so that educators can be better informed on how to recognize and manage concussions in students.
“It doesn’t have to be a difficult process to increase concussion education in the schools,” Snedaker said. Workshops and injury reporting software such as InjureFree, which is free for schools and low cost for youth sports, can be used to help spread awareness to students, parents and coaches on how to manage concussions and ease students back into school and sports.
Concussions made national headlines this week when it was revealed that NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino had filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that they knew about the long-term dangers of concussions. Marino later withdrew from the lawsuit, according to ESPN.com, but Snedaker said having a high-profile athlete talking about concussions brings attention to the issue.
Although she would have liked the new law to address youth sports leagues, she said a committee in Hartford will be looking at possible policy changes in youth sports and should be making recommendations to expand the law in the fall.
“This is a good time to pause and educate people while we track injuries and collect data, and then see where we can next address the issue.”