The National Football League (NFL) recently joined two New Jersey lawmakers to support the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act of 2013 (ConTACT Act). The act emphasizes the importance of establishing best practices for diagnosing and managing mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in children. The NFL is studying the long-term effects of mTBI in athletes, which appears to be lacking in this bill.
The legislation was drafted in 2008 after a New Jersey high school football player died upon returning to play shortly after a concussion. While the ConTACT Act was not enacted then, there is hope that the bill will pass, backed by the NFL’s endorsement as well as new concussion guidelines that are currently in development by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It the ConTACT Act passes, more than $5 million in federal funding will be allocated to a five-year grant program to educate school coaches on the best ways to diagnosis, treat and manage school-aged children with mTBI.
Many states have already adopted rules and regulations to manage concussion in young athletes, but I am concerned because some schools lack the resources to implement them. We need to educate coaches and parents about recognizing concussion warning signs and the need for children to be removed from play and not allowed back until they are medically cleared and symptom-free without medications for at least one week.