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(Senate - September 24, 2013)

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[Pages S6882-S6883]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, on Friday night in Illinois and all over 
the country thousands of high school students will take to the football 
  They will put on helmets, they will put on pads, but unfortunately 
some of them will still get hurt.
  Almost half the concussions in high school sports occur in football.
  But it is not just football.
  Injuries are a part of all sports, but as we learn more about the 
long-term effects of concussions and how frequently they are ignored, 
it is clear we have to step up our game to confront this health risk.
  The National Federation of State High School Associations estimates 
about 140,000 students who play high school sports have concussions 
every year.
  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of children 
age 19 and younger being treated in ERs for traumatic brain injuries 
went from 153,373 in 2001 to 248,418 in 2009--a 60 percent increase.
  Some students stay in the game not recognizing the risks of playing 
hurt--especially when they have had a concussion.
  Many athletes do not know the signs and symptoms of concussion, which 
may cause many concussions to go undetected.
  A 2010 Government Accountability Office study found many sports-
related concussions go unreported.
  Athletes who continue to play while concussed are at risk for 
catastrophic injury if they sustain another concussion before 
recovering from the first one.
  This second injury can cause symptoms that can last for months and 
can even be fatal.
  Youth athletes are at the greatest risk from sports-related 
concussions because their brains are still developing and are more 
susceptible to injury.
  According to the American Academy of Neurology, athletes of high 
school age and younger with a concussion should be managed more 
conservatively when it comes to returning to play because they take 
longer to recover than college athletes.
  Michael Schostok played football in Mundelein, IL.
  He experienced a concussion on the football field. Immediately after 
taking a hit to his head, he stumbled off the field.
  He was disoriented and explained to his coach that he was in severe 
pain, especially when looking into the sun.
  But his coach urged him to continue playing and he remained on the 
field for the rest of the game.
  Two days after the game, Michael was unable to look at a computer 
screen without severe pain and suffered from blurred vision and slow 
  Three days after the game, he went to a doctor and was diagnosed with 
a concussion.
  Michael was lucky that he did not suffer another concussion while he 
continued to play.
  Unfortunately this situation is not unusual.
  According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, 
OH, more than 40 percent of young athletes return to play before they 
are fully recovered.
  Since 2009, States have started implementing legislation guiding 
return-to-play procedures for student athletes who have sustained a 
  As of August 2013, 49 States and the District of Columbia have 
successfully passed some form of legislation with varying concussion 
safety measures.
  Illinois has been a leader on this issue and passed legislation in 
2011, recognizing the dangers associated with concussion.
  In Illinois, a student athlete who is suspected of sustaining a 
concussion or head injury in a practice or game is immediately removed 
from the game until he or she is cleared by a health care professional.
  This is a great step forward for Illinois, and I commend the Illinois 
High School Association for its work protecting student athletes.
  This week I will introduce the Protecting Student Athletes from 
Concussions Act, which would support the progress made by States such 
as Illinois.
  The bill would, for the first time, set minimum State requirements 
for the prevention and treatment of concussions.
  The legislation requires schools to post information about 
concussions on school grounds and on school websites and adopt a ``when 
in doubt, sit it out'' policy.
  This policy requires that a student suspected of sustaining a 
concussion be removed from participation in the activity and prohibited 
from returning to play that day.
  They can return to play in future events after being evaluated and 
cleared by a qualified health care professional.
  The ``when in doubt, sit it out'' policy is recommended by the 
American College of Sports Medicine and the American Academy of 
Neurology, which recommends that an athlete suspected of a concussion 
should not return to play the day of their injury--under any 
  Concussions are not always easily diagnosed, and symptoms that might 
indicate concussion don't always manifest themselves immediately.
  Athletes don't want to let down the team or the coach and are often 
eager to return to the game.
  So helping athletes, school officials, coaches, and parents recognize 
the signs and symptoms of concussion can make all the difference in 
putting a player's safety above winning.
  This legislation will ensure that school districts have concussion 
management plans that educate students, parents, and school personnel 
about how to recognize and respond to concussions.
  And it asks schools to adopt the ``sit it out'' policy to be sure 
athletes are

[[Page S6883]]

not put back in the game before they have recovered from an initial 
  I am pleased that a variety of organizations are supporting this 
bill, including the NFL, NCAA, NHL, NBA, American College of Sports 
Medicine, American Academy of Neurology, among others.
  I look forward to working with the schools, athletic programs, and 
others to build on the progress already made in protecting student 
athletes from concussions.