Furman's Clark Plays Key Role In Student Athlete Concussion Legislation

Craig Clark

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman University head athletic trainer Craig Clark and the South Carolina Athletic Trainers' Association (SCATA) helped score a victory for state student athletes Thursday when Gov. Nikki Haley visited the Upstate for a ceremonial signing of the Student Athlete Concussion bill.

Clark, the president-elect of SCATA, and many of his colleagues were involved in crafting the legislation, which works to advance the identification and treatment of concussions in student athletes in all sports, focusing on concussion awareness and prevention.  He spoke on behalf of SCATA at the Thursday's ceremony, which was held at Dorman High School.

The legislation, which was unanimously signed into law by both the South Carolina House and Senate in June, mandates that all school districts in South Carolina create "Return to Play" guidelines and policies on how to handle concussions.  It also aims to educate parents on concussion symptoms, requiring every school district to send a concussion info packet home to be signed by a parent or guardian before a student athlete is allowed to participate in any sport.

The new law also states that if a coach, athletic trainer or physician suspects that a student athlete has sustained a concussion or brain injury in a practice or in an athletic competition, the student athlete shall be removed from practice or competition for an evaluation.

It is estimated that one third of all South Carolina high schools do not employ athletic trainers, which leads to medical professionals from within those communities to volunteer their services to assist student athletes. The new law will provides these volunteers legal protections from lawsuits.

According to the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children, 900 kids a year in South Carolina are taken to hospitals for head injuries, but many more go unreported.

Clark is now in his fifth year as head athletic trainer at Furman.   A 1999 graduate of East Tennessee State University, he earned a master's degree in education from The Citadel in 2003.