Representatives DeSaulnier and Stauber Introduce Bill to Protect Student Athletes from Concussions

September 13, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Pete Stauber (MN-08) announced the introduction of the bipartisan Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act (H.R. 5216), a bill that would promote awareness of sports-related concussions in student athletes and develop comprehensive, evidence-based strategies to respond to these injuries.

“As a former football player myself, I know that young athletes, whose brains are still developing, are at increased risk of sports-related concussions, which can have serious, long-term consequences, jeopardizing their ability to compete, their academic performance, and their mental health,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “By creating national standards for concussion safety measures for student athletes, this bill would allow for real progress toward protecting our nation’s children. The importance and need for this bill are demonstrated by the strong support it has among the athletic, academic, and medical communities.”

“As a former hockey player and father of student athletes, I know the impact concussions can have on young people,” said Congressman Stauber. Therefore, I’m proud to introduce the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act once again with Rep. DeSaulnier to raise awareness and establish better safety guidelines. We need every tool in the toolbox to protect young athletes from the potentially devastating consequences of concussions. 

“The National Football League is pleased to once again support the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act. The League is committed to efforts that encourage youth to play sports and stay active, while minimizing the risk of preventable and unnecessary injuries. We believe this bill would help achieve both goals by ensuring that core concussion safety standards apply to all primary and secondary students throughout the country. The Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act is a win for student athletes’ safety,” said Brendon Plack, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs of the National Football League.

“Major League Baseball supports the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act. This bill will ensure nationwide compliance with evidence-based best practices for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries in youth sports and, like the protocols in MLB, protect student athletes from returning to play until they are medically cleared to do so,” said a spokesperson for Major League Baseball.

“U.S. Soccer commends Representatives DeSaulnier and Stauber for their leadership on this important issue. It is critically important that coaches, players, parents, and referees have the information and guidance they need to assure the prevention, identification, and management of head injuries, and concussions in particular, across all sports,” said George Chiampas, Chief Medical Officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is proud to support the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act and commends Rep. DeSaulnier for his continued leadership on this very important issue,” said Kathy Dieringer, EdD, LAT, ATC, President of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. “As health care professionals on the front line of defense, athletic trainers understand the short- and long-term effects of concussions. This bill will help to ensure that student athletes who sustain a concussion return to the classroom and athletic activities as safely as possible.”

“The American Physical Therapy Association is grateful for Representative DeSaulnier’s leadership in efforts to protect student athletes,” said APTA President Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD. “Physical therapists are a part of the multidisciplinary team that evaluates and treats student athletes who have sustained concussions. Establishing specified minimum requirements for the prevention and treatment of concussions in school sports will support the multidisciplinary collaboration in assessing an athlete’s condition and determining when it is appropriate to safely return to play.”

“National PTA’s mission is to make sure children are safe and healthy so that they can reach their full potential. Educating youth and their families about ways to stay safe while participating in school-sponsored activities is essential to ensuring their well-being,” said Anna King, president of National PTA. “Our association applauds Representative DeSaulnier for reintroducing the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act and for his commitment to making sure students, families and school personnel are trained on evidence-based concussion safety, as well as appropriately informed when their student suffers a concussion.”

“Children with concussion, particularly multiple concussions, may be at risk for developing chronic or recurring headaches and suffering from impaired memory, cognitive dysfunction, attention deficit disorders, and other behavioral changes,” said Orly Avitzur, MD, MBA, FAAN, President of the American Academy of Neurology. “The Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act would take important steps to ensure the safety of young athletes by raising awareness through educating players, families, and the general public, and ensuring that athletes do not return to play prematurely following a concussion.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that as many as 1.9 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur every year among people under age 18 in the United States.

H.R. 5216 would bring all states in line with evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of sports concussions as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Neurology. More specifically, this bill would require states that receive federal education funding to form concussion management teams and develop concussion guidelines as well as ensure that students who have concussions receive the appropriate academic support.

This legislation is supported by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the 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 Hockey League (NHL), National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA), National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Pop Warner Little Scholars, San Francisco 49ers, USA Cheer, U.S. Soccer Federation, and USA Football.