The Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act of 2017 (HR 3580) encourages states to implement laws and regulations that would require local education agencies to promote awareness of and implement policies for the prevention and treatment of concussion-related injuries in primary and/or secondary schools.
The bill defines a concussion as a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head that causes the brain to move rapidly in the skull and results in impaired brain functioning, which can present physically, cognitively, and emotionally. The nature of the symptoms can be physical, such as headache, fatigue, or dizziness; cognitive, such as memory loss or slowed thinking; emotional, such as irritability or sadness; or sleep-related. Players in contact sports like football, hockey, and soccer are at a higher risk of concussions, with 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occurring yearly in the United States according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate. A 2017 study found a 99% occurrence of the neurological disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), caused by repeated blows to the head, in a sample of deceased National Football League players, suggesting a connection between the high occurrence of concussions in the sport and long-term brain malfunction.
HR 3580 would require states’ local educational agencies to develop a “concussion safety and management plan” for public schools. The plan would educate students and parents about concussions, and train school personnel on evidence-based practices for preventing and responding to concussions. For students recovering from a concussion, the plan would provide medical and academic accommodations. Finally, the plan would establish best practices to ensure uniformity of safety standards, treatment, and management of concussions.
Public schools would also be required to post peer-reviewed scientific information about concussions on school grounds and on the school website. The posts would be required to mention the risks of sustaining a concussion, the actions a student sustaining a concussion should take, and the symptoms of a concussion.
In the event of a concussion suspected to be sustained by a student during a school-sponsored activity, the student would immediately be removed from the activity and prohibited from participating in other school-sponsored athletic activities until given a written release from a health care professional. The school personnel would report the incident to the concussion management team, which would then confirm the concussion and communicate with the parents of the student. The team would also consult with school personnel to ensure that the student receives academic accommodations throughout his or her recovery, including periods of cognitive rest during the school day, modified academic assignments, and a gradual reintroduction of cognitive demands.