By Brad Segall, Nicole Brewer

ABINGTON, Pa. (CBS) — Abington Memorial Hospital is teaming up with the Abington School District to educate coaches, trainers, health professionals, and other staff about a new Pennsylvania law designed to protect student athletes.

With traumatic brain injuries on the rise in middle and high school sports, the new law clearly spells out new requirements for keeping athletes safe.   It mandates yearly training for high school coaches and requires parents to sign an information sheet on brain injuries.

The law also spells out how school officials, parents, and athletes are to respond to head injuries.

At a training session today at the high school, experts from the hospital talked about the signs of concussion and the requirements under the new law.

“We  have learned a lot more about concussions over the last five to ten years and how serious they can be, and how seriously they have to be taken — as opposed to the old coaches advice to just walk it off,” Dr. Steven Barrer, Abington Hospital’s chief of neurosurgery, said today.

Todd Vaccaro, the school district’s athletic director, says they also need to educate the students.

“If something occurs during a game, during an event, (or) at practice that sets them off, they need to make the coach aware of that situation so they can be treated,” he notes.

Under the law, students suspected of suffering a concussion must be taken out of the game, and they can’t return until cleared by a doctor.  Coaches who don’t follow the rules can be penalized.

The Abington School District will hold an informational session for athletes and parents in October.


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