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Udall still determined to lessen youth concussions

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WASHINGTON — Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that the Youth Sports Concussions Act (S. 1014), a bill he introduced with Commerce Committee Chairman John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV (D-WV), cleared a major hurdle when it passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

The legislation would help protect youth athletes from the dangers of concussions by curbing false advertising claims made by sports equipment manufacturers to increase protective sports gear sales. Action on S. 1014 coincides with Youth Sports Safety Month: an April campaign by STOP Sports Injuries to raise awareness and educate parents, coaches, and athletes about children’s sports injury prevention. The Udall-Rockefeller bill awaits action by the full Senate.

“Sports are a fun and healthy part of growing up, but athletes, coaches and parents need accurate and honest information about equipment so they can make safe decisions,” Udall said.

“As we continue to look for the best ways to tackle the problem of sports concussions at all levels of athletics in New Mexico and nationwide, I am pleased we’re making progress in taking false advertising out of the game,” he said.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act, as amended in the committee, will increase potential penalties for using false injury prevention claims to sell youth sports equipment. S. 1014 is supported by major sports leagues and players’ associations, high school and college sports associations, pediatricians, scientists and several consumer groups.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences recently released a report concluding there is little to no medical evidence that youth sports equipment protects against risks of concussions. At Udall and Rockefeller’s urging, the IOM studied how best to protect young athletes from sports-related concussions so parents and coaches can make informed decisions about how to keep athletes safe.

The legislation was introduced after the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing in October 2011 on sports equipment marketing and concussions. During the hearing, it was revealed that sports equipment manufacturers have repeatedly made claims that their equipment “prevents concussions” or “reduce the risk of concussions” without scientific evidence to back those claims.

Numerous sports, medical and consumer organizations support the Youth Sports Concussion Act, including the Brain Injury Association of America, Brain Trauma Foundation, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, NBA, NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, NFL, NHL, U.S. Soccer Federation and USA Hockey.

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