Athletic activity provides many benefits and should be encouraged despite some inevitable risks of injury that no protective gear can eliminate. Yet sports are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) for those 15 to 24 years old, and athletes suffer up to 3.8 million concussions each year.
News reports and a Congressional hearing highlighted marketing claims for sports equipment that prevents concussions or reduces the risk of concussions without significant scientific evidence to prove them. This can put young athletes at greater risk of brain injury.
At a press conference led by United States Senator Amy Klobuchar in Minneapolis, MN on August 7, 2014, David King, Executive Director of the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance and representative for the United States Brain Injury Alliance, spoke in support of the Youth Sports Concussion Act.
The Youth Sports Concussion Act would ensure that safety standards for sports equipment are up to date and informed by the latest science. This bill would also increase potential penalties for using false injury protection claims to sell equipment.
Speaking at the press conference King stated, “Over the past five years, most states have passed various forms of legislation to protect our youth. The goal of these laws was to better understand and recognize concussion signs and symptoms in order to help athletes return safely to competition. The positive outcome was a heightened awareness of brain injury and the need to prevent concussions, in addition to the importance of providing accommodations for students returning to school following a concussion.
“The thirst for solutions that these concussion laws created unfortunately also had a downside. It resulted in an onslaught of products claiming to prevent and/or reduce the risk of concussion. The United States Brain Injury Alliance embraces the advancement of research and technology that protects our youth athletes. However, without strict standards, guidelines and oversight, these products can create a false sense of security. Unsubstantiated claims by product manufacturers will ultimately result in causing additional harm to our already vulnerable youth.
These false claims interfere with the diligence of coaches, athletes, parents, referees and athletic trainers who have invested so much to raise awareness about the signs, symptoms and seriousness of concussions.”
Supporters of the Youth Sports Concussion Act include numerous sports, medical and consumer organizations to include: Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Athletic Trainers Association, National Federation of State High School Association, National Football League and the National Hockey League.
The United States Brain Injury Alliance believes the Youth Sports Concussion Act is a positive step forward in ensuring that the science of prevention continues through adequate product safety standards while at the same time preventing false claims and advertising. The Alliance feel’s strongly that the Youth Sports Concussion Act will strengthen the efforts of groups across the nation working to keep our youth athletes active and safe.