COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - Governor Rick Scott signed a bill Friday to help reduce concussions for kids playing sports.
The bill requires coaches to remove players from a game or practice immediately following any signs of a head injury.
The Collier County School District has lead the way in having proactive measures in place to prevent concussions for student athletes. Unlike many schools, they have certified athletic trainers on the sidelines with a checklist on hand to evaluate players as soon sa they step off the field.
Paul Heuerman watched his son Mike, a senior at Barron Collier, from the stands, well aware of the risks that come with playing football. He has three boys all playing the game and fully supports any bill that makes the game safer for them.
"I think it's great. Anytime we can make the game safer for the kids is an improvement to the game," says Heuerman.
The bill signed by Gov. Scott Friday prevents students from returning to competition until the player has been cleared by a doctor; rules Collier County has had in place for the last two years.
"If someone has a symptom, they automatically sit down for the rest of the game and then our certified athletic trainer will check them over," says Mark Rosenbalm, activities coordinator at Barron Collier High School.
They also have a four-day return to play policy where a player must complete a list of requirements before heading back to competition, but only after they are symptom free for at least 24 hours.
"We have strict rules where an athlete at minimum might take 5-6 days before they can get back on the field," says Rosenbalm.
Certified athletic trainer Julie Frymyer says these rules are critical, especially for kids because their brains are still developing and back to back concussions could be fatal.
Rosenbalm adds, "we have taken every proactive way to make sure we're not going to put them on the field unless they are 100 percent cleared or 100 percent ready to go play."
Rosenbalm says the biggest difference they see with these new rules isn't on the field, but off, in making players and parents more aware of the signs and symptoms.
"The bill is now just making sure that everyone is going to follow the protocol," says Rosenbalm.
Another new rule in place this year requires coaches and officials to take a concussion class online to familiarize themselves with signs and symptoms.