US H.R. 469

We have logged 21 different states putting forth legislation for head injuries in sports.  The first one was in Washington with the passage of the Zachary Leystedt Law in 2009.  Now the United States House of Representatives has put forth an effort to create a “minimum” standard for each state to follow.  H.R. 469 was introduced in January of this year and has not garnered a lot of press, here are the highlights;

  • School Sponsored Athletic Activity (all schools)
  • Healthcare Professional includes athletic trainers
  • A very well constructed definition of concussion
  • Informed consent to parents, athletes, coaches, etc.
  • Required assistance for students to return to academics
  • Required posting of information regarding concussions in the schools
  • Out a minimum of 24 hours and cannot RTP without written clearance from healthcare provider
  • A report out to the Secretary of Education at end of year

We have reached out for comment from various sources and here is what some have to say.

From a practicing athletic trainer:

With recognition like this comes great responsibility. Continual progression as a whole toward increasing clinical skill set, becoming even better advocates for our profession(all settings) and staying progressive will continue this wave of advancement in our field.

From a football coach in a state without legislation:

Kids safety is my top priority, I am not a big fan of the government telling us how to do it.  That being said there needs to be a consistent set of rules for all teams to follow and punishment/repercussions if not adhered to.

One of the different aspects that this piece of legislation versus the state sponsored laws is the ability for the Federal government to actually hold states and schools responsible;

Beginning with fiscal year 2013, in order to be eligible to receive funds for such year or a subsequent fiscal year under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.) each State educational agency shall issue regulations establishing the following minimum requirements

Matt Chaney a journalist that is on the very proactive side in bringing awareness to the underlying issues with concussions had this to say;

These laws only further set-up schools, personnel and sport-med associates [trainers, doctors]to assume liability in event of catastrophic injury such as permanent or fatal head trauma. The ATs pushing ‘concussion testing,’ for instance, are suckers.

Most public schools and colleges must concede local club football is an absolute necessity for this country. Old, lingering public football is well past its time. No way can cash-strapped districts and higher-ed institutions [read taxpayers and students] continue to foot the operations/liability bill for tackle football. Ridiculous to even consider it, for most if not vast majority of public education through collegiate level.

And finally a quote from a prominent researcher in concussions, heavily published around the world;

I wasn’t aware that PT’s had specific training in the acute management and treatment of concussions.  It must be all of the dual credentialed (ATC/PTs) they are referring to. Otherwise this doesn’t really seem that different from all of the state laws.  It would be better if there was funding for ATCs in every school.

To me this is a double-edged sword, as having “acts/laws” in place to deal with concussions is very good for the awareness piece of the puzzle, however, especially with Federal acts what will be tacked onto said bill in order for this to pass?  I do believe there should be a bare minimum and as coach said above, it should be consistent and have some “bite” if not adhered to, along with that it should extend beyond high schools down to the elementary level as well.

Overall I do actually like the proposal put forth and would help with making EVERYONE aware of the minimums, but I do continue to hear Chaney in my head saying someone will be set up to take a big fall with this.

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