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EDITORIAL: Suffolk bill is a brain gain

Even the NFL, where concussions are as much a part of the game as touchdowns, is getting more serious about managing head injuries. But sports-related concussions aren't limited to professionals. So a new Suffolk County law, designed to make youth leagues address the issue, makes sense. But parental vigilance is as crucial as legislation.

The idea hit former Legis. Brian Beedenbender (D-Centereach) last year, as he watched a report about an NFL quarterback and whether he should have played after a concussion. Beedenbender knew from experience in high school how hard it can be to diagnose concussions and decide when an athlete can safely return. So, to keep boys and girls in all sports from getting back into the lineup too fast, he proposed requiring youth leagues that get county money to adopt a policy on handling concussions. County Executive Steve Levy signed it Dec. 31.

The law doesn't specify details, but the county can and should issue a model policy that leagues should follow. In Albany, Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) has passed a bill that would require a doctor's OK before a student returns to play and compel school districts to keep records of school-related head injuries. But it hasn't passed the Senate. One fear is that it's an unfunded mandate. If so, it's a pretty minor one.

We spend billions filling kids' brains with knowledge. We should be willing to adopt low-cost, sensible measures like these two, to avoid damaging them. hN