Two Congressional committees a week ago made headway on getting legislation passed that would protect young athletes from the various after effects of concussions.
In Washington last Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Committee put the finishing touches on its bill, which has been dubbed the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act, or Contact Act, according to The New York Times. It is now ready for a vote in the House.
Under that bill, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius would hold a meeting of brain experts who would suggest national guidelines for dealing with sports concussions in youths ages 5 to 18. One of those guides would establish when an athlete with a concussion can safely return to the field. The bill also permits states to obtain grants to impose the suggested guidelines.
Also Thursday last week, the House Education and Labor Committee conducted its second hearing on the Protecting Student Athletes From Concussion Act, taking testimony from five witesses in D.C. That bill mandates that public schools create their own concussion game plans, and these would have to require that athleted be pulled from play or practice if they are suspected of having a concussion. And they could not resume playing sports unless they were cleared by a medical professional.
One of the education committee’s witnesses was the Rev. Kathy Brearley. Her son, University of Pennsylvania football player Owen Thomas, committed suicide in the spring. And it was recently discovered tht Brearley had a kind of brain damage that is caused by repetitive head trauman.
His mother testified that at a time when people are suspicious of the government, “I think erring on the side of caution and giving a baseline from the federal level from a minimum would be helpful. And then the states and school districts themselves can adopt additional cautionary measures.”
The list of Education Committee witnesses also included Dr. Stanley Herring, who is the team doctor for the Seattle Seahawks and who helped draft Washington State’s model state law on dealing with concussions in sports.
The Contact Act originally provided for millions of dollars for state’s to arrange for neurological testing, but that financing aspect of the bill was stripped out so that the legislation would get to the point where the full House Energy Committee would vote on it.
The committee approved the Contact Act unanimousy, but it still must be approved by the entire House of Representatives and the Senate.