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Gov. signs school athletes concussions measure into law

Updated at: 3:23 pm on 7/28/11

Student athletes from elementary to high school will get better safeguards against concussion injuries under a new law Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has enacted.

Quinn signed the bill into law at a ceremony at Chicago's Soldier Field Thursday morning.

According to the Governor's office, research conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that sports are the second-leading cause of brain injury in young adults ages 15 to 24. In addition, more than 40 percent of high school athletes return to play before fully recovering from a concussion.

“The desire to compete must never trump the safety of our student athletes," Governor Quinn said in a statement. 

Quinn was joined by Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross and State Senator Kwame Raoul, who co-sponsored the legislation. Raoul said sports like youth football are gaining popularity in Chicago.

"It's been well established in the suburbs, but it's being reintroduced to the inner city," said Raoul. "And as we reintroduce it to the inner city, we must make sure that we do so in a safe manner."

The law also requires school boards to work with the Illinois High School Association to educate coaches, parents, referees and players about concussion symptoms. Studies show that repeat concussions can raise the risk of permanent brain damage.

Many athletic directors in the state support the law because it will put schools all on the same page. But some worry about lack of funds to pay for trained staff to monitor athletes and make sure they're removed from play after a suspected concussion.

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