Congress to Investigate Head Injuries in Student Athletes Today

A congressional committee meets in Houston Monday to discuss standards for allowing high school and college football players to return to the game after suffering head injuries.

Here is the witness list.

This will be the House Judiciary Committee's third hearing on head injuries and football.

The Associated Press reported that "estimates for the number of sports- and recreation-related concussions in the United States each year go as high as 3.8 million, according to the Brain Injury Association of America."

The AP story continued:

"At least a half-dozen states are considering measures that would toughen restrictions on young athletes returning to play after head injuries, inspired by individual cases and the attention the issue has received in the NFL.

"Washington state led the way last year, passing what is considered the nation's strongest return-to-play statute. Athletes under 18 who show concussion symptoms can't take the field again without a licensed health care provider's written approval. Several other states, including California and Pennsylvania, have similar bills pending.

"Elsewhere, the Maine legislature passed a law last year that creates a working group on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussions in young athletes. In New Jersey, there's no state law to regulate how head injuries should be handled for athletes, but the legislature has allowed a commission to look into brain injury research."

The Houston Chronicle reported on what is expected to happen at the hearing:

" 'Texas is a state that has enacted its own football head injury law known colloquially as 'Will's Bill,' said Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich. 'The committee expects to hear from health experts and those involved in the administration of collegiate and high school sports.'"

The Brain Injury Association of America has a fact sheet on sports and concussions [PDF].

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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