Senator Kemp Hannon
6th District New York

Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Senate Health Committee, was joined today by Senator Greg Ball and members of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, a group that advocates nationwide for victims of brain injuries, to push for legislative action on the Concussion Management Awareness Act.

“The number of children each year who suffer brain injuries, such as concussions, is alarming,” Senator Hannon said. “We need to act to ensure that coaches, trainers and others are properly prepared to handle mild traumatic brain injuries before they become severe or life-threatening.”

The bill (S.3953), sponsored by Senator Hannon and co-sponsored by Senator George Maziarz and Senator Greg Ball, would direct the State Health and Education Departments to adopt rules and regulations for the treatment and monitoring of students with mild traumatic brain injuries.

“When a student suffers a head injury playing sports, it can affect the rest of his or her life,” said Senator Maziarz. “Our effort helps develop a plan to make sure that young athletes are treated and supervised properly to protect their long-term health and well-being as much as possible.”

“We realize now what we may not have known a few decades back,” said Senator Ball. “Concussions create long-term, detrimental health effects, and those hits taken on the playing fields can have substantial and lasting impacts. It’s time to get serious and protect our young athletes so they can enjoy long and healthy lives.”

The proposed legislation would require that each school district have a concussion management team comprised of health and sports staff.  The concussion management team would be responsible for overseeing staff training, educating parents and students about concussions and helping transition students who have sustained a concussion back into school and sports with specified guidelines.

“By instituting these regulations, school personnel will be able to more easily identify concussions and thereby reduce the risk of long-term complications in our young people,” Hannon said. “In the future, this legislation will encourage parents, students and coaches to take preventative steps to avoid such significant injuries.”

Hannon was joined by Patrick Donohue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, whose mission is to create a model system of care for children and young adults suffering from all Pediatric Acquired/Traumatic Brain Injuries (PA/TBI). 

"We are very grateful that Senator Hannon continues to lead the effort in the New York State Senate to advocate on behalf of our children and protect them from the devastation that brain injuries can cause our most vulnerable and their families," said Donohue.  "This legislation will help to prevent, identify and treat mild traumatic brain injuries to students across the entire State of New York."

Donohue’s daughter, Sarah Jane, was violently shaken by her baby nurse when she was just days old, breaking her ribs, both collarbones and causing severe brain injury. At 5 and a half years-old, Sarah Jane cannot walk or talk on her own as a result of her brain injuries.

The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation is currently conducting the 2011 National PABI Plan Tour. The goal is to better prevent, identify and treat brain injuries in children and teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half a million children under the age of 15 suffer from traumatic brain injuries each year. There are 3,000 deaths from traumatic brain injuries in children each year and it is the leading cause of disability of young people in the United States.

Some of the causes of traumatic brain injury include falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports concussions, violence, shaken baby syndrome, bicycle accidents, or any trauma to the head. Many times concussions are left untreated since the symptoms are not always quickly identified. If  left untreated, concussions can result in permanent brain damage or death.

The National Center for Injury Prevention states that 47 percent of high school football players suffer from concussions each season. In addition to young athletes, children and teens are more likely than adults to suffer a concussion, and their recovery time is longer.

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