Two members of Congress have introduced legislation that would require improvements in safety for companies that make football helmets for young athletes.
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) sponsored the bill which would give those companies nine months to improve helmet safety standards. According to the bill, if those companies fail to do so, then the Consumer Product Safety Commission would then be required to set the standards. The bill will also enforce stricter penalties for companies that make false safety claims.
Nacy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and the Director of Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation in West Orange, NJ says the medical implications of a concussion are severe. "Concussions are brain injuries that impact the brain permanently...with every concussion you are weakening the connections in the brain. Repeat concussions increase the risk of mild cognitive impairment and depression later in life, as well as illnesses such as Alzheimer's Disease."
Rep. Bill Pascrell says, "We want our children to be active and athletic, but in the safest possible circumstances right down to the helmets they put on their heads. The bill is the logical next step in Congress' effort to protect our young athletes from brain injuries."
According to WebMD, 40% of approximately 250,000 sports related head injuries seen in the emergency room between 2001-2005 were children between the ages of 8-13. A study by the National Association of Injury Prevention, released in January 2011, stated that 47% of high school football players endure a concussion in one season, while 35% have multiple concussions in a season. Unfortunatley another 85% of concussions remain undetected. Sports are the 2nd leading cause of traumatic brain injury for Americans ages 15-24 and every year 3.8 million U.S. Athletes suffer sports-related concussions with football being responsible for more concussions than any other sport.
This new bill would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to determine within nine months if the voluntary safety standards for helmet makers are adequate enough to result in a reduction of the risk of injury. If they are not found to be good enough, the CPSC would have 30 days to set new standards for all football helmets that manufacturers would be required to follow. The bill also requires manufacturers to post warning labels on helmets noting their limited protection capabilities, a date of manufacture, and also the date the helmet was last reconditioned. The reason for this is because a football helmet's ability to protect athletes from injury decreases over time as the helmets receive hits.
This bill will help make sure young athletes are protected from brain injuries as much as possible, while still being able to enjoy the sports they love.
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