House approves Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act

By James Wagner
Thursday, September 30, 2010; 12:20 PM

The House approved a bill early Thursday that would establish guidelines on how to prevent, identify and treat concussions, including how soon a student-athlete can return to play.

The bill, formally known as the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act, was first outlined by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) last year along with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). It would require that Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, convene a conference within two years of medical and athletic experts to set the concussion management guidelines.

The proposed legislation would also offer grants to states and D.C. that would help them implement those guidelines and even purchase testing equipment needed to evaluate the effect of the concussions.

Pascrell said he proposed the bill, which requires Senate approval, after two incidents involving New Jersey high school students. Ryne Dougherty died in 2008 after returning to a football game without recovering from a previous concussion. Niki Popyer suffered 11 concussions in four years and was forced to give up basketball.

"While we did not have the proper guidelines to protect them in the field of play, this bill would create federal guidelines, not by the Congress but by professionals to protect other student-athletes so they can excel not only in sports but in school," Pascrell said Tuesday on the House floor.

The proposed legislation is separate from another bill outlined last week by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) that would set minimum guidelines for how school districts across the country should handle student-athletes recovering from concussions, specifically in the classroom.

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