Law and Policy
Zachery Lystedt was just thirteen years old in 2006 when he went back into a football game after sustaining a hard hit earlier in the game. He sustained a severe brain injury and today he lives with the consequences of second impact syndrome. The Seattle SeaHawks took an interest in Zach’s story and worked with his family and Washington State legislators to develop a law to protect student athletes from unnecessary brain injuries.
In May of 2009 Washington State passed the Zachery Lystedt Law that provides guidelines for concussion management for student athletes. The passing of this law began a surge of legislation aimed at protecting our young athletes. The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey began a campaign to develop such a law for New Jersey’s student athletes and approached Assemblyman Diegnan with a proposal. On December 2, 2010 Governor Christie established the New Jersey Concussion Law (NJSA 18A:40-41.3). The law became effective as of the beginning of the 2011/2012 school year and mandates four key actions when a concussion is suspected during interscholastic sports:
- Immediate removal from sports competition or practice
- Unable to return to play on the same day
- Medical Evaluation and written clearance by a physician or other licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussion is required before being allowed back to sports activity
- Must follow Graduated Return To Play as outlined in the Zurich Consensus Statement
- Athletic trainers, coaches, and school physicians must take an interscholastic athletic head injury safety training program.
In addition to the law
- NJ Department of Education was mandated to write a model policy for school districts to follow, develop a fact sheet to be signed by parents and athletes, and provide an Athletic Head Injury Safety Training Program for school physicians, athletic trainers, school nurses and coaches.
- School Districts mandated to have a concussion policy in place by the 2011/2012 school year.
- Sports clubs using school district property are required to sign a statement of compliance with the district’s concussion policy.
- Athletic trainers are mandated to complete continuing education specifically on concussion each year.
New Jersey Concussion Law and the Model Policy: Similarities and Differences
Questions have arisen and will continue to arise as New Jersey School Districts implement the Law. Interested groups and lawmakers are working toward consensus on the language of the Law to answer the questions and clarify the intent of the Law.
New Jersey’s Model Policy for concussion is meant as a guide for school districts to use as they develop their own individualized policies. See how your school district’s concussion policy compares to the New Jersey Concussion Law and the Model Policy.
What other groups are doing to address concussion issues:
As more attention is being directed toward concussion other groups have developed position papers, policy statements, recommendations, strategies, and protocols regarding concussion. Here are a few…
The Consensus Statement was developed at the Zurich International Symposia on Concussion in Sport in 2008. Groundwork for this Statement was begun at the two previous Symposia in Vienna and Prague. It was developed for the purpose of providing physicians, therapists, athletic trainers, health care professionals, coaches and others with the most current information about concussion, the management of concussion, and making return to play decisions.
Founded in 1918, the NJSIAA is a voluntary, non-profit organization made up of 433 accredited public, private and parochial high schools in New Jersey. It establishes the rules and regulations that govern high school sports. The NJSIAA has a Medical Advisory Board which developed the first concussion policy for New Jersey schools years before the Concussion Law was passed. The Policy was revised in the fall of 2011 to mirror the Law.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is the professional membership association for certified athletic trainers and others who support the athletic training profession. Its mission is to enhance the quality of health care provided by certified athletic trainers and to advance the athletic training profession.
THE NCAA's core purposes it to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount. The NCAA was founded more than one hundred years ago as a way to protect student-athletes and continues today to implement that principle with increased emphasis on both athletics and academic excellence.
The AAPNJ represents over 1,500 pediatricians from across New Jersey. This organization is dedicated to ensuring optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
The ACSM is a global leader in sports medicine and exercise science. From academicians to students and from personal trainers to physicians, the ACSM is dedicated to helping people worldwide live longer, healthier lives.
The NJSSNA is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the practice of school nursing. Organized in 1937 and incorporated in 1938, NJSSNA serves as the voice for New Jersey’s school nurses. School nurses facilitate positive student responses to normal development; promote health and safety including a healthy environment; intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self-management, self-advocacy, and learning.
Concussion: The Nation’s Response
Congressman Bill Pascrell, long time advocate for brain injury issues and sponsor of the TBI Act in Congress, developed the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act (ConTACT Act) of 2010. The ConTACT Act would establish national guidelines addressing prevention, identification, treatment, and management of concussion in school-aged children. The Act would also provide grants to states to collect data about the incidence and prevalence of concussions among children, and establish reporting requirements for concussion. The ConTACT Act was not reintroduced during the last legislative session; however, key provisions will be implemented in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read the Press Release here
The NFL became involved with concussion legislation following the passing of the Lystedt Law in Washington and developed a campaign supporting states to write and pass concussion laws. The NFL Health and Safety webpage maintains a current list of states with concussion legislation passed and pending. http://nflhealthandsafety.com/zackery-lystedt-law/states/
Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
Questions about concussion arise as awareness increases. The CDC has responded to these questions by developing materials that support mandates included in many of the concussion laws. The CDC website provides training materials in the form of tool kits for clinicians, youth sports coaches, high school coaches, and schools at no cost so that these key professionals have easy access to the most current information about concussion. As additional questions arise, the CDC continues to respond with new information about return-to-play and more provided as online training tools. http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/