Federal Government Gets Involved with Concussions in Youth Sports Issue

Teen in Wheelchair Holding Football

Youth Sports

In recent years, local and state governments from all over the country have begun to recognize the inherent dangers in exposing young athletes to repeated blows to the head. They have realized that even wearing helmets will not prevent long-term harm from being inflicted, and they have also realized that it can take years to truly understand the damage that is done. As such, they have enacted statutes and put forth standards that lay out requirements for the removal of young athletes from competition and that generally require medical clearance before they can return to action.

For the most part, these statutes and requirements have not been met with any real controversy or intense scrutiny, as few if any people could argue with the motivation of protecting young people from traumatic brain injuries. However, that doesn’t mean that these standards are uniform from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and some feel that the disparity between standards and between jurisdictions with laws and those without is unnecessarily exposing some young people to unreasonable harm. Two of the people who apparently feel this way are United States Senators, and they are attempting to do something about this perceived problem.

Senators Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia have introduced a bill in the legislature that is known as the Youth Sports Concussion Act. The bill is largely aimed at manufacturers of protective equipment such as helmets. It would set scientific standards for this equipment and lay out rules regarding false advertising with regards to these protective items. The bill would also add some power to the Federal Trade Commission so that agency could crack down on any manufacturers that make false claims regarding the safety of their products.

In addition, the bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review a study that is currently being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences that is focusing on youth concussions in sports. There are other basic tenets in the bill, but these standards and oversight provisions are expected to provide these agencies with the ability to act quickly and to mete out punishment to those manufacturers that mislead the public with regards to the safety of children's brains.

The bill is currently in committee, which means that in reality it has a long way to go before it would ever become federal law. However, it would set out some uniform standards that would likely provide some measure of comfort to parents of children who take part in collision sports with regards to what is protecting them. As it is, 1.7 million people overall suffer traumatic brain injuries in the United States every year, and many of them occur in youth sporting competitions.

The Scarlett Law Group has been serving clients as traumatic brain injury lawyers for more than 20 years, and we hope that everyone who participates in these collision sports does so safely and with confidence that the products they trust for protection perform as they should.