Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 5

Bill to Protect Student Athletes from Concussions

Every year, there are as many 1.9 million sports-related concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, among minors. With concussions being so common and unpredictable, local Congressman Mark DeSaulnier introduced legislation to protect student athletes. 

The Protecting Student Athletes From Concussions Act of 2020, or HR 5611, would, among other things, develop a plan for concussion safety. “These younger athletes are at greater risk of sports-related concussions and subsequent complications than college or professional athletes because their brains are still developing. These injuries not only affect students’ future ability to compete in sports, but… can be detrimental to their academic performance and mental health,” said DeSaulnier. “That is why I have introduced the bipartisan Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act along with my colleague, Representative Pete Stauber. HR 5611 would represent an important step in the right direction toward protecting student athletes from the long-term effects of brain injuries.”

Many of the standard HR 5611 intends to do are already in place at Las Lomas. “The concussion protocol at our school is [to] just stop you from playing the sport. You can still come to practices and watch but you can’t play that sport until… [getting] cleared by a doctor,” said David Farrell, a sophomore lineman who sustained multiple concussions playing football. “If you get a concussion, you don’t even go to school for a while, depending on the severity… I was out of school for a week.”

The California Interscholastic Federation, or CIF, outlines standards of care for concussed student athletes, although Las Lomas is “above the curve for the way we treat our student athletes following a concussion,” according to our Athletic Trainer Ron Abrew. “The field of concussion research is evolving everyday…Unfortunately, most bills…written about concussion safety are written by people that do not understand anything about concussions. The better question should be, why is California the only state that does not have a state [license] for Athletic Trainers, who are often times the first person the student athlete sees or should see when they sustain a concussion?”

HR 5611 still has garnered a lot of support. The NCAA, the NFL, the NHL, the MLB, the San Francisco 49ers, and many more support this legislation. “Concussions are an often-silent health condition that can have serious, long-term consequences, and…with still-developing brains, younger athletes are at greater risk from sports-related concussions than college or professional athletes. These injuries can jeopardize students’ future ability to compete in sports, their academic performance, and their mental health,” said DeSaulnier. “Together with a community of schools and medical professionals, we can make real progress toward protecting our student athletes.”