New concussion law in effect in time for start of high school football season

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PITTSBURGH —

A new state law is forcing schools to better protect student athletes from concussions this fall sports season.

The Safety in Youth Sports Act, or the Concussion Law, went into effect in July but this school year is its first test.

Clay Moorefield is ready to tackle anything for the University Prep Panthers this season.

But last year, a hit during practice sidelined the junior receiver for two weeks.

"I fell on the fumble and somebody landed on my head," he said. "I was like, "Whoa, that was a hard hit.' So I tried to go back in but I couldn't do it."

Moorefield immediately started feeling the effects of a concussion.

"Everything was real dizzy, slow, and my head was hurting, and that's when I knew something was wrong," he said.

Head coach Lou Berry said, "These kids are like sons to me. You never want to see any type of horrific accident take place."

Berry said nothing is as important as player safety.

"I would never want to put a kid in harm's way and disappoint a parent," he said.

Under the new state concussion law, Berry received training on concussions.

The law also requires student athletes with concussion-like symptoms to be immediately taken out from activity.

Students can't return to play until they're cleared by someone trained in concussion management.

"It's an elusive injury. Concussion is not an easy thing to assess and manage," Dr. Micky Collins, director of UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, said.

He and his staff see 15,000 concussion patients each year.

Collins said high school students take longer to recover and have more side effects.

"We see a lot of kids, high school kids, who will miss half a month of school because of this, even a year of school sometimes. It's quite scary," he said.

Collins believes the new bill will create a heightened awareness of the symptoms and that getting your bell run is serious, something Clay Moorefield, his coach and athletic trainer know first-hand.

"Missing one game, missing two games, three is better than entire season because of this," said athletic trainer Liz Bronson.

Sports concussions are not just a football or a boy's injury -- girls' high school soccer sees the second-most concussions in high school sports, followed by girls' basketball.

To learn more about symptoms, side-effects or UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program—click here and/or here. You can also visit the CDC's website.