Concussions in student athletes are a growing public health problem that demands immediate attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 3.8 million incidences of sports-related concussions occur every year. Legislative and policy efforts at the state and local level on concussion management have been highly inconsistent. This inconsistency can be a detriment to the quality of care and considerations necessary for the complexity of concussion injuries within active student athletes.
On November 19, 2013, Representatives Tim Bishop (D-NY) and George Miller (D-CA) reintroduced the Protecting Student Athletes From Concussions Act (HR 3532), legislation that establishes guidelines around prevention, identification, treatment, and management of concussions in school-age children, and acknowledges the role that physical therapists (PTs) have in evaluating and treating these injuries.
The legislation would require states to implement concussion safety and management plans that include return-to-play requirements and academic supports. Additionally, the bill requires that any student who suffers a concussion be immediately removed from any participation in school sports until he or she receives a written release from a health care professional. Physical therapists are explicitly listed as one of the professionals qualified to make these return-to-play decisions.
On September 17, 2013, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) reintroduced the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act (ConTACT) (HR 3113/S 1516). This legislation, introduced in the 111th Congress led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish the Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline Work Group. Two physical therapists were selected to serve for their expertise on this work group.
The latest iteration of the ConTACT Act calls for the establishment of national guidelines drawn from the CDC work group recommendations on best practices for diagnosis, treatment, and management of MTBI in school-aged children. The legislation also provides for grants to help states implement these guidelines.
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