Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) introduced the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act this week.
This bill would create much-needed nationwide standards on concussion safety and establish tools for student athletes, parents, and school faculty to develop procedures on concussion prevention, detection, and treatment.
In addition, it would require all schools that receive federal aid to develop a concussion management plan to ensure that students are informed about concussions and given the support they need to recover. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced similar legislation in the United States Senate.
“Young athletes’ brains are still developing, which makes them more susceptible to injury and puts them at greater risk of sports-related concussions than college or professional athletes. Concussion rates among high school athletes have doubled between 2005 and 2012. This bill seeks to curb this trend by educating students, parents, and school personnel about how to recognize and respond to these injuries,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.
“It used to be called ‘getting your bell rung’ but we now know that a concussion is something that should never be taken lightly,” Senator Durbin said. “Research has shown the serious long-term health risks associated with concussions in youth sports. I am glad to see that members in the House and Senate agree that more must be done to protect students from the dangers of these types of injuries.”
“There are so many benefits to sports participation, but it is essential that youth and their families are knowledgeable about ways to stay safe on sports fields,” said Otha Thornton, President of National PTA. “It is a top priority of National PTA to ensure youth have the opportunity to experience the benefits and joys of sports participation, while staying safe and healthy. The association applauds Representative DeSaulnier for introducing the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act of 2015 and for his commitment to educating and training students, families and school personnel on the prevention and treatment of concussions.”
According to figures from the National Federation of State High School Associations, an estimated 140,000 students playing high school sports suffer concussions every year, though many go unreported.
In order to address this problem, the bill establishes a “when in doubt, sit it out” policy that requires students suspected of sustaining a concussion to suspend participation in athletic events for the remainder of the day, be evaluated by a health care professional, and have the parents notified. Specifically, it provides students recovering from concussions the support they need as they return to school-based athletic and academic activities.
It also directs states to develop concussion safety guidelines for public school districts, which include posting educational information on school grounds and school websites about concussion symptoms, risks, and recommended responses for student athletes, parents, coaches, and school officials in order to raise awareness of the danger of concussions among student athletes.