Congressman DeSaulnier Announces Legislation to Help Protect Student Athletes from Concussions at Event with Former NFL Players and John Muir Doctor

May 31, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced the Protecting Student Athletes From Concussions Act (H.R. 3580) to help schools implement concussion response strategies to safeguard the health of student athletes. According to figures from the National Federation of State High School Associations, an estimated 140,000 students playing high school sports suffer concussions every year, though many go unreported. H.R. 3580 would establish nationwide standards on concussion safety, and would encourage schools to develop practices that exceed national standards by taking a holistic approach to preventing, detecting, and treating concussions.

DeSaulnier unveiled the legislation today at a Student Concussion Prevention Event held at Ygnacio Valley High School with special guests: Dennis Brown, Former Defensive End for the San Francisco 49ers, Akili Calhoun, Former Defensive Tackle for the Oakland Raiders, and Moussa Yazbeck, MD, Neurointensivist for John Muir Health.

“Young athletes, whose brains are still developing are especially vulnerable to concussions,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “Each year as many as 1.9 million sports-related concussions occur in children under the age of 18. If these concussions go untreated, research shows that these injuries can not only affect students’ ability to compete in sports, but can also negatively impact their academic performance and mental health. By better educating students, parents, and school personnel about how to recognize and respond to these head injuries, we can better protect the health of our student athletes both on and off the field.”

“In football, when I was growing up, the perception was the toughest players were the best. When you took a hard it, we called it ‘getting your bell rung,’ and after one of the first hard hits I took my coach told me if you are seeing three then aim for the guy in the middle. At that time, that was where education about concussions stopped,” said Dennis Brown, Former Defensive End for the San Francisco 49ers. “What I am most proud of in this bill is the education component. The players, coaching staff, parents, and faculty need to know when to spot a concussion and how to properly treat it.”

“With all of us coming together to raise awareness and learn about concussion prevention, it makes me think more deeply about it,” said Akili Calhoun, Former Defensive Tackle for the Oakland Raiders. “Listening to the doctors today makes us all more aware of the things that are happening when we are out on the field.”

“Concussion is an epidemic, there is 3.8 million concussions annually in the United States. While we have made progress in recognizing and treating concussions, we still have a long way to go. I am glad to see that Congressman DeSaulnier is raising this issue in Congress, and I hope this bill passes for the sake of our students’ health,” said Moussa Yazbeck, MD, Neurointensivist for John Muir Health.

The Protecting Student Athletes From Concussions Act would help address this problem by bringing all states into compliance with evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of sports concussions. It would also require states that receive federal education funding to form concussion management teams, develop concussion guidelines for educating students, and establish policies to protect students suspected of sustaining a concussion from subsequent injury. The bill further focuses on academic recovery, which is a vital component for young students that is often overlooked in concussion planning.                                                                         

Congressman DeSaulnier previously introduced this legislation in the 114th Congress. As part of this effort, he also secured opportunities for funding for schools to develop comprehensive concussions prevention and treatment plans in the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (PL 114-95).

The legislation is supported the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Football League (NFL), National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA), National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA), Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. (PWLS), USA Federation for Sport Cheering (USA Cheer), US Lacrosse.