Young people who suffer concussions will have some help when they return to school thanks to the “return to learn” law cosponsored by State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru) and signed Aug. 3 by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“This new law is near and dear to me. My son Zach suffered three concussions during his high school and collegiate football days,” Sen. Rezin said. “We must properly address how our children can return to the classroom after a concussion because it can often be challenging for these students to study and learn information, from either a textbook, study group, or instructor.”
Senate Bill 7, which goes into effect immediately, will impact elementary, middle, and high schools. It’s a bipartisan piece of legislation to require schools to develop policies and procedures to help young athletes and non-athletes who suffered a concussion return to the classroom. Doctors would have to clear a student before he or she could return to the classroom or participate in athletics. The new law will also require school districts, based on their resources, to create a concussion oversight team consisting of coaches, trainers, and medical professionals, and require schools to create an emergency action plan in the case of a serious injury.
“After my third concussion, when I went to class, a little pain would turn into a lot of pain,” Zach Rezin said. “I would start to get double vision. I would then have to leave the room. When speaking, I would have to really think about what I would want to say, instead of just naturally saying it. So I took some time off and went home to take it easy.”
“We often forget how difficult it is for young people who have these head injuries to simply study or take notes,” Sen. Rezin said. “Zach’s injuries were not only stressful and emotionally draining for him, but for our family and his friends. His studies are more important than sports. Families I speak with share the same sentiments. All four of my kids played sports since the third grade and three of my four kids were college athletes. This is a serious issue that is now getting the attention it deserves, and I am glad action is being taken.”
Zach is making a full recovery now and returned to college in January. He advises young football players to keep their head up when tackling and keep their equipment maintained.
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) testified at the Statehouse earlier this year in support of the legislation, as well as Tregg Duerson, the son of Dave Duerson, a former Chicago Bears defensive back who suffered head trauma from his playing days and who died in 2011.
Other supporters of Senate Bill 7 include the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and Rush University Medical Center.