The Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act of 2019 (S 2600) creates provisions to prevent and treat concussions caused during school-sponsored athletic activities, including physical education classes, recess, and team sports. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury in which an impact to the head results in changes to brain function. These changes may include loss of consciousness, impaired memory, dizziness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.
To improve prevention and treatment for concussions, the bill requires each state that receives federal education funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish regulations that meet particular minimum requirements. Within five years of the bill’s passing, local educational agencies must design and implement a concussion strategy that includes the following actions:
- Developing a concussion safety plan that provides education about concussions, supports students recovering from concussions, and standardizes concussion treatment;
- Publishing online and physical resources to educate students and staff about the risks and symptoms of and appropriate responses to concussions;
- Implementing a standard response to student concussions, including the immediate removal of the student from athletic activities; and
- Establishing a protocol for a student’s return to athletic activities after a concussion, which must include a written release from a health care professional.
Schools that do not comply with these requirements will have their federal funding cut by 5% after the first noncompliant year and by 10% each year thereafter.
As of 2016, between 1.1 and 1.9 million concussions occur each year among student athletes in the United States. This number has increased from approximately 300,000 in 2003. Additionally, 69% of students with concussions continue to play sports despite their symptoms, and students who have had previous concussions are more likely to experience a concussion in the future. Repeated concussions can have long-term effects on brain function, such as impairing memory and increasing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. According to a press release, students may experience improved health outcomes while recovering from concussions if states implement the minimum requirements outlined in this bill.