In response to the tragic death of Montclair High School's Ryne Dougherty, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force yesterday introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to help schools better protect student athletes from brain injuries.
The legislation, called the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act, will authorize federal grants to states to be used to help schools invest in concussion screening technology and adopt better concussion management guidelines.
"Providing basic preventative technology and guidelines to mitigate the effects of head injuries can reduce the number of tragic deaths and countless injuries that occur in youth athletics," stated Pascrell. "I will push hard with the weight of the entire Congressional Brain Injury Task Force to implement the ConTACT Act."
Specifically, the ConTACT Act will create a state grant program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will fund computerized pre-season baseline and post-concussion neurological testing for school sponsored sports. Schools that enroll students from grades 6 through 12 will be eligible for the funding.
The grant program would be authorized for 5 years and is estimated to cost $5 million in the first year. It would require a report to Congress within 2 years of enactment regarding the use and results of screening technology.
Pascrell has long been a strong advocate for expanding concussion management technology to youth athletics. In August of 2006, Pascrell visited a Nutley High School football practice to announce a new round of grants for New Jersey high schools to implement concussion management technology.
The legislation was developed by Rep. Pascrell, Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and the Brain Injury Task Force with consultation from the Brain Injury Association of America, the New Jersey Brain Injury Association, the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators, the Athletic Trainers Society of New Jersey, the International Brain Research Foundation and the New Jersey Office of Disability Services.