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CDC To Create Student Concussion Guidelines
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Two New Jersey lawmakers announced this week that a panel of health experts will commence work creating a national standard for treating teenage athletes who suffer sports related brain injuries. United States Senator Robert Menendez and Rep. Bill Parscell reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will assemble experts to recommend a nationwide protocol for properly diagnosing and treating concussions.

According to Pascrell, the CDC will convene a panel of experts to define the scope of the protocol, review existing literature, review the current state of science on concussions and have protocols ready for distribution by the fall of 2014. Pascrell stressed that “every concussion is brain damage” and that 41 percent of student athletes who suffer concussions return to playing too soon, which sometimes results in serious or even fatal consequences.

Concussions are caused by force to the head and may affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and muscle coordination. Concussion symptoms may become worse if not properly treated and teenagers are more susceptible to long term repercussions than adults.

New Jersey is one of about a dozen states with legal standards governing when a student athlete who suffers a concussion may resume participation. A New Jersey law adopted last year requires a doctor’s written clearance before any athlete who suffered a concussion may return to a school-sponsored sport. The law also requires that school athletic trainers participate in continuing education on concussion management and that schools follow protocol in evaluating whether a player has fully recovered.

The New Jersey law, however, does not address athletes who play contact sports for recreational teams or clubs. Pascrell and Menendez tried last year to pass a federal law establishing a national concussion-management standard for student athletes, however, the legislation stalled.

Author: This article was written by Annie Reynolds, an advocate for student safety and practicing attorney at the Sheridan & Murray in Philadelphia, PA.

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