In a continuing commitment to protect America's student-athletes from the dangers of sports-related concussions, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8), U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) urged U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to implement provisions of the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act.
In a letter to Secretary Sebelius, the four lawmakers requested the Secretary to begin developing national guidelines for the management of sports-related concussions and to help facilitate states developing their own protocols according to those guidelines. These provisions were included in the ConTACT ACT, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 30 with Rep. Pascrell as its primary sponsor. Senator Menendez was the primary sponsor of the legislation in the U.S. Senate.
"In recent years, there has been a much greater degree of public awareness about the dangers of sports related concussions. But awareness isn't enough. That's why we are calling upon Secretary Sebelius to take action," said Pascrell, a House Ways and Means Committee member who founded and co-chairs the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. "We want federal standards for parents, coaches, athletic trainers, doctors -- anyone who may be entrusted with the care of a young athlete -- to know how to prevent and respond to concussions, and to know when it's safe for athletes who have sustained concussions to return to the ball field. Some states have taken the initiative to provide some protections, but providing federal standards will give these protections to all student-athletes throughout the nation."
"If a pro football player shows concussion symptoms during the Super Bowl this weekend, he will have access to the best training staffs, team doctors and top-notch diagnostic equipment to protect his health. Meanwhile, our sons and daughters who play school sports are just as susceptible to concussions but have only a fraction of the protection," said Sen. Menendez. "Our children should be able to focus on achieving their goals on the field without having to worry about the effects of a concussion off the field. We need to make sure that the most advanced strategies are being implemented for our high school and middle school athletes."
"This Super Bowl Sunday, countless young athletes will dream of someday playing in the big game themselves. We can help keep those dreams -- and the rest of their dreams for the future -- alive by better protecting them against sports-related concussions," said Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "Youth sports are a great way to promote physical activity and build leadership skills, but we owe it to our kids to keep them safe while they play. Developing federal concussion management guidelines for coaches, parents, trainers, and fellow students will go a long way towards preventing needless injuries and deaths among our student athletes."