Bill hopes to protect student-athletes

Experts say athletes get back into game too soon after head injuries

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Kobe Bryant is back in the game after a concussion forced the NBA star to ride the bench.

He broke his nose when he took an elbow to the face during last weekend's All-Star game.

But thanks to a series of NBA-required tests, clearance from a neurologist and living 24 hours symptom free, the Los Angeles Lakers guard suited up for Wednesday night's game.

Most people know that professional athletes have access to the best medical care out there. But many wonder what is being done right now to protect student-athletes from getting back into the game too soon after a big hit or brain injury.

Unfortunately, right now there is not much being done to protect student-athletes when it comes to getting back to practice after a head injury. It's usually up to the coaches and the parents to see if the student should keep playing.

But there is a new law that, if passed, would require coaches to remove players who they believe have a concussion, and the player must have a doctor's approval to return.

The Florida House has approved the bill, which is now waiting on the Senate's approval. Bills like this make parents of young athletes very happy.

When temperatures rise, the ice rink is the coolest place to be. But like all contact sports, the game of hockey does carry a big risk.

"A guy came kind of on a blind side and just hit me," said teenage hockey player Jacob. "I hit my head on the ice."

For 13-year-old Jacob, the effects were immediate.

"I didn't even remember coming off the ice. My dad asked me what happened and I didn't know. I wasn't really aware of anything," he said.

Jacob's dad said he was the first one out to see Jacob and that he didn't look himself.

Jacob was diagnosed with a concussion.

According to doctors, a concussion is a complex pathophysiological injury to the brain.

Because that injury may not be obvious on an MRI or CAT scan, parents and coaches need to know what to look for.

The warning signs include a headache, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, confusion and memory problems.

Doctors said sometimes symptoms evolve. A person could have mild symptoms from the first minute to hour, but then over the next 24 hours, he or she might have more of an evolving symptom pattern.

The key to treating a concussion is allowing time for the brain to heal.

Doctors say that coaches need to at least go by, "When in doubt, sit them out."

After a break from the game, Jacob was fine and back on the ice, with visions of one day becoming a pro hockey player just like his dad.

"I just try to be myself out there," Jacob said.

More than 30 states already have laws in place that are similar to those proposed in Florida.

The Florida High School Athletic Association already backs the new measures.

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