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D.C. passes law to protect high school athletes from injuries

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Lawmakers in D.C. on Thursday approved a landmark bill aimed at combating injuries of high school athletes.

Discussions about how to protect athletes from head injuries have reached the NFL, too. (Photo: Associated Press)

The law is considered one of the most comprehensive in the country. It applies to all athletes in the city under the age of 18.

“When I began before, I hit my head and I got a mean headache and stuff,” says Dunbar High School football player Davon Matthews.

No matter how they prepare, there's a good chance some of the young athletes at Dunbar will experience a concussion.

“A line-backer I know he had a head injury,” says former athlete Isiah Thomas. “A couple days, little more than a week he came back out there.”

Statistic show 400,000 high school athletes got concussions in three years. Dr. Gerard Gioia of the Children’s Hospital is among those calling for reform.

“We know that learning in school is a student's job. That job is impaired after a concussion,” he says.

The law passed Thursday, called the athletic concussion protection act, bars injured athletes under the age of 18 from returning to the sport until they get a physicians permission. It also requires a training program for coaches, trainers and even parents on the risks from concussions and warning signs.

“If it helps out kids I have no problem with it at all,” says Dubar conditioning coach Henry Johnson.

The law extends to all schools and recreation leagues across sports and athletics, not just football. Not all players like the idea of doctors determining whether they can practice or play.

“I feel as though I should be able to play, I should have more say in it,” said Dunbar player Delonte Matthews.

His teammate Trevon Jackson said the extra scrutiny could be helpful.

“You never know what could happen if you come right out here after you had a head injury so you should make sure things are clear,” he said.

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