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Bill to protect young athletes from concussions moves to senate floor

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OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma senate committee voted to move forward with a bill that would protect young athletes in the Sooner State from the dangers of concussions.

The bill focuses on more education for trainers and athletes about symptoms and risks associated with concussions.

Experts hope those steps will prevent long-term injuries and deaths.

"I just really don't want another athlete or a family go through what I've gone through and what my parents continue to go through," said Lauren Long, Concussion Connection Co-Founder.

Long has been fighting for stronger concussion legislation since 2014.

Long was an avid soccer player.

It has been nine years since her last concussion, but she's still dealing with the effects.

"I deal with migraine headaches on a daily basis, irritability, mood swings," Long said.

Currently, Oklahoma law makes sure public school students and coaches learn about concussions.

The new law ensures club soccer, youth football and other private sports programs get the same message.

"Those are the kids most at risk, because they don't have access to an athletic trainer or medical professional," Long said.

"All of those kids deserve the same protection. Provides an inexpensive, actually free training for coaches and referees, just making sure they're being cognizant of the risk concussions can cause," said Sen. AJ Griffin.

"Concussion is a real problem in this state," said Dr. Eric Sherburn, a neurosurgeon in Tulsa.

Sherburn said the biggest misconception he fights is the belief that the effects of a concussion last just a few days.

"The average concussion lasts three to four weeks, and that's a real change in time frame. That can affect a high school student's entire semester, may affect whether or not they have to be taken out of school," Sherburn said.

The senate committee voted 35-3 to move forward with the bill.

Now, it will head to the full senate for a vote.

If it passes before the session concludes, it will become state law.

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