Congressman Tim Bishop joined fellow Democratic lawmakers last week in introducing legislation to strengthen elementary, middle and high school procedures for preventing, detecting and treating students athletes who suffer concussions while competing in sports.
The Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act would, for the first time, set minimum safety standards for concussion management in public schools across the country with plans that educate students, parents and school personnel about how to recognize and respond to concussions.
“Concussions are an unfortunate reality of competitive sports from the sandlot to the Super Bowl,” said Bishop, an original sponsor of the bill. “This legislation addresses the clear need for nationwide standards and new tools for students, coaches and teachers on concussion prevention, management, and recovery.”
This legislation has garnered broad support from groups representing teachers and parents, sports medicine and athletic organizations. These supporters include the National Football League Players’ Association, the American Federal of Teachers, the American Academy of Neurology, the National Athletic Trainers Association and the National Council of Youth Sports, among others.
The legislation aims to raise awareness of the danger of concussions among student athletes by directing states to develop concussion safety guidelines for public school districts that 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.
The bill also institutes a “when in doubt, sit them out” policy that requires students suspected of sustaining a concussion to end their participation in the athletic event for the remainder of the day, be evaluated by a health care professional and have parents notified. It also provides students recovering from concussions a variety of supports that they need as they return to athletic and academic activities in school.
According to recent research, approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million sports and recreation-related TBIs occur in the United States each year and the National Federal of State High School Associations estimates that about 140,000 students playing high school sports suffer concussions every year through many go unreported.