The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

May 23, 2013

Rockefeller sponsors new head-injury legislation

CHARLESTON — A senator who’s long pushed parents, coaches and communities to help protect young athletes from sports-related concussions is now sponsoring federal legislation to set safety standards for helmets.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act would help ensure parents aren’t misled by false and unproven claims from manufacturers of helmets and other safety equipment, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said Wednesday.   

“Far too many parents are deceived by sports equipment manufacturers who make outrageous claims about their products’ abilities to prevent or alleviate concussions,” he said. “These parents, who are raising active and healthy children they love and want to keep safe, are being manipulated by a handful of bad actors. This has to stop.”

The bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review a forthcoming study from the National Academies of Science on youth concussions. The commission might then be able to consider new safety standards for sports equipment if manufacturers don’t act on their own.

It would also give the Federal Trade Commission power to consider rules that prohibit false safety claims.

Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, held a discussion about youth concussions last year in Shepherdstown. Medical experts there discussed the dangers and frequency of concussions for young athletes while officials from youth sports explained the steps being taken to protect athletes on the field.  

Rockefeller said football and women’s soccer are the most vulnerable sports. His own son had three concussions as a young player, then quit playing football because he wanted to be a doctor and feared long-term damage.

Rockefeller said more than two dozen organizations have endorsed the Youth Sports Concussion Act, including major sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and NHL. Players’ associations, doctors and consumer protection advocates are also behind it.

 

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