WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 20, 2010
We’re here this morning to discuss research recently conducted by the Government Accountability Office into concussions among high school athletes. The findings of the GAO will be illuminated by experts in the field and individuals who have firsthand experience with this type of injury.
Concussions are functional traumatic brain injuries suffered as a result of force – for instance, they could be caused by a collision of the head or a blow to the body. Although the federal government is not responsible for the treatment or tracking of this type of injury, concussions are of interest to this committee because of their implications for students.
Hearings such as this provide an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the issues dealt with by states and local communities and highlight the resources and best practices available to help students, parents, coaches, and school leaders prevent these injuries and respond appropriately when they do occur.
Research in this area is ongoing, but we know concussions among high school athletes have drawn increasing attention in recent years. One reason is because younger people appear to be more vulnerable to this type of injury than adults.
Recent research indicates high school athletes with recent or repeated concussions have difficulty concentrating, lower attendance rates, and significantly lower cumulative grade point averages than high school athletes with no history of concussion. In other words, this affects not just student health, but also academics.
As with many dangers to our children, prevention is the best medicine. That’s why we’ll hear today about education programs and resources designed to help prevent concussions in student athletes. We’ll also hear about programs and guidance for coaches, administrators, parents, and medical personnel that address what to do when a concussion occurs or is suspected, including best practices for determining when athletes can most safely return to the field of play.
I want to thank the witnesses for being here to discuss this topic and help bring attention to the steps student athletes and the adults who supervise them can take to prevent and respond to this type of injury.
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