by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
A New Prague teenager and a Ham Lake state senator saw their collaborative effort on protecting young athletes against the sometime fearsome consequences of concussion ceremonially saluted today (Wednesday, June 8).
Kayla Meyer, a former teen hockey player who suffered two concussions, Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and others witnessed Gov. Mark Dayton ceremonially sign the legislation at a mock bill signing at the State Capitol.
The bill establishes protocols related to concussion.
The governor, because of legal time constraints, had already signed Benson’s and Rep. Rod Hamilton’s legislation into law.
“You’re the rock star,” Hamilton, Republican from Mountain Lake, told Meyer who testified at a series of legislative hearings on behalf of the bill.
“When in doubt, sit them out,” Meyer urged coaches and parents of young athletes showing signs of suffering concussions.
Benson spoke of the wisdom of the legislation.
“I thought it was wise to have a baseline for how to deal with youth athletic concussions,” she said.
After the signing, Meyer said she thought it would take awhile for young athletes to realize that concussions are serious.
They have to realize, Meyer explained, allegiance to the team needs to be tempered by an allegiance to themselves.
“They need to rely on themselves, take care of themselves. And that their health matters,” she said.
In committee hearings last session, Dr. Mark Carlson, of Sanford Bemidji Clinic, described a concussion as an injury on the cellular level of the brain — one that does not show up on an X-ray.
The best treatment is rest, “complete rest,” said Carlson.
There is no specifics lengths of time to recover from a concussion — it varies from person to person, the doctor noted.
Symptoms of concussion include headache, loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia, vomiting, ringing in the ears, tiredness.
Among other things the concussion bill does is tighten the standards for having athletes who’ve suffered concussions again take the field or court.