May 1, 2015

Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention a Primary Focus for Lawmakers

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions of people each year and causes an average annual death toll of 50,000. While tragic and sometimes fatal athletic injuries have made TBI a primary focus for the public and lawmakers, falls are the leading cause of TBI across all age groups, according to the CDC.  From 2006 to 2010, falls were the cause of 40% of all TBI that led to an emergency room visit, with a majority of these by adults aged 65 or older.  Unintentional blunt trauma and motor vehicle crashes round out the top three causes.
Legislation was passed in all 50 states from 2009 to 2014 with the goal of limiting TBI. Lawmakers varied in their approach.  For example, some states created mandatory education for student athletes, parents of student athletes, athletic coaches, and athletic trainers.

In 2010, Connecticut passed PA 10-62 which requires school athletic coaches to complete annual training on concussions and head injuries. The act also requires coaches to take a student athlete out of a game or practice if the athlete is diagnosed or suspected of having a concussion.  The coach must keep the athlete out of any game or practice until the athlete has received written clearance to return from a licensed medical professional.

PA 14-66 further addressed these issues.  For example, starting in the 2015-2016 school year, the act prohibits student athletes from participating in athletic activities until the student and his or her parent or guardian have read material, viewed a video or online training, or had in-person training regarding concussions.
The problem continues to be addressed this session.  According to Kate Blackman of the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 100 bills have been introduced in 2015 related to TBI awareness, prevention, and rehabilitation.