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What it does 

The primary goal of the Youth Sports Concussion Act (H.R.4460) is to reduce sports-related concussions in youth. The bill makes it unlawful for vendors and distributors to sell protective equipment with false or deceptive claims about the safety benefits of the product. The Federal Trade Commission will enforce the specifications of this bill under the terms and provisions provided through the Federal Trade Commission Act. 

Congress also:

Relevant Science 

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that alter brain function. Symptoms, such as headaches, difficulty concentrating, and issues with memory and coordination, are common for concussions. Although possible, concussions normally do not cause structural alterations in the brain. These injuries are common in contact sports, such as football. Recent studies have demonstrated that National Football League (NFL) players who have suffered from concussions are more likely to develop clinical depression and mild cognitive impairments later in life. In another study, 96% of 91 brains belonging to former NFL players had signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a brain disease that results from head trauma and disrupts the normal neuronal pathways that control functions such as memory, judgment, and fear.

Concussions that are acquired during athletics are a result of the brain’s movement in the cerebrospinal fluid at a different rate than the movement of the skull during a collision. In order to help prevent concussions, helmets for various sports and recreational uses are made with absorption material that can be compressed to lessen the force of the brain-skull collision. Without proper absorption material, the brain and skull receive the full impact of the clash, which increases the likelihood and severity of a concussion. Current research indicates that individuals wearing loose-fitting helmets suffer worse concussion effects than those wearing properly fitted helmets. Although helmets increase safety, current technology cannot guarantee concussion prevention.

Relevant Experts 

Carrie Muh, MD, MS – Pediatric Neurosurgeon & Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Background 

In order to assist parents, coaches, and athletes participating in youth sports, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created the HEADS UP Concussion in Youth Sports Initiative. This initiative provides information regarding prevention, recognition, and treatment of concussions in youth. HEADS UP has also created a free online concussion-training course for anyone interested in learning more in depth material.

Endorsements & Opposition 

Endorsements:

  • The five American professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, and MLS) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have endorsed the Youth Sports Concussion Act.  In addition to the leagues, the players union in each league and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association has supported the Act.
  • The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has expressed support for the Act.

Opposition:

  • There is strong opposition to the Youth Sports Concussion Act from the National Sporting Goods Association: “This is a bad bill …[We must] place the burden where it rightfully belongs, on protective equipment manufacturers.”
Status 

H.R. 4460 was introduced on February 4, 2016 and referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee; the next day it was delegated to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade. The identical bill, S. 2508, was introduced on the same date and referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. On April 27, 2016, this Committee reported the bill favorably; it now awaits action on the Senate floor. 

Sponsors 

H.R. 4460’s sponsor is Rep. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ-9); original cosponsor is Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL-17).  S. 2508’s sponsor is Senator Tom Udall (D-NM); original cosponsors include Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Primary Author 
Stephanie Vereb, MA Candidate
Editor(s) 
Brian Langloss, PhD Candidate, & Aubrey Incorvaia, MPP
Recommended Citation 

Duke SciPol, “Youth Sports Concussion Act (HR 4460/S 2508, 114th Congress)” available at http://scipol.duke.edu/content/youth-sports-concussion-act-hr-4460s-2508-114th-congress (12/1/16).