Pascrell Highlights CDC Report on Student Athlete Concussions

Federal report summarizes the current research on concussion knowledge, awareness, attitudes, and behaviors

Garfield, NJ –As student athletes across the nation return to the playing field, today U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), Co-founder and Co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, was joined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials in his efforts to raise awareness about concussions and traumatic brain injury among student athletes. Rep. Pascrell was joined at Garfield High School’s athletic field by student athletes, local officials and the CDC as the school year gets underway and student athletes return to the playing field.  Research shows that as many as 69 percent of young athletes with a possible concussion continue playing sports with concussion symptoms. “Protecting our youngest athletes from the devastating effects of sports-related concussions has long been a priority of mine,” said Pascrell.  “While there is a lot more research needed to shift the culture in sports to take head injuries seriously, the CDC’s report outlines strategies that parents, coaches, and schools can be using now to help us move in the right direction.” The CDC report titled “Concussion at Play: Opportunities to Reshape the Culture Around Concussion” summarizes the current research on concussion knowledge, awareness, attitudes, and behaviors. The report includes potential strategies to help keep athletes safe. Some strategies highlighted in the report include:

  • Improving the Way Coaches Talk About Concussion. Young athletes who receive negative messages from their coaches, or who are insulted by their coaches for reporting an injury, may feel pressured to keep playing with concussion symptoms. On the other hand, young athletes who receive positive messages from their coach and are praised for symptom reporting are more likely to report their concussion symptoms.
  • Encourage Reporting of Concussion Symptoms. Many young athletes do not report symptoms because they don’t think concussions are serious; they’re worried about losing their position on the team; they don’t want to let their coaches and teammates down; and they’re concerned about what their coaches or teammates might think of them.
  • Health Care Providers and School Professionals Can Help Young Athletes Successfully Return to Learn and Play. As many as a third of young athletes do not receive clear discharge instructions after going to an emergency department with concussion symptoms. When discharge instructions are provided, health care providers often give instructions on return to play but not on return to learn. The most important action that school professionals can take is to support young athletes during their recovery process as they return to learn.
  • Education Efforts Help Play a Role in Concussion Safety. Participation in concussion education may support increased symptom reporting by athletes.
  • Young Athletes Look to Parents and Coaches to Understand the Culture of Safety. A young athlete’s views and actions on the sports field are influenced by those of their parents, coaches, teammates, and even spectators.

“Commitment and leadership in the field of traumatic brain injury, like that of Congressman Pascrell, is crucial,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, director, CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Events like this one are a great opportunity for bringing together coaches, schools, parents, and athletes to create a culture of safety and support for our athletes, especially as we kick off the new academic and athletic year.” Rep. Pascrell has been raising awareness of traumatic brain injury dangers and treatments for 15 years, including the House passage of his Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act, which provides for national protocols to be established for managing sports-related concussions. In response, the CDC notified Rep. Pascrell that it would convene the Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Expert Panel, which will establish the national protocols. Rep. Pascrell has also worked to promote safety standards for sports equipment by ensuring that they are up-to-date and informed by the latest science. The Youth Sports Concussion Act touches on both product safety standards and false advertising issues related to sports concussion.

For more information on CDC’s report Concussion at Play click here.