Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Sheila Oliver and Gabriela Mosquera to help protect students who play intramural sports from head injuries received final legislative approval unanimously from the General Assembly on Monday.
"Concussions are among the most common injuries sustained by student athletes," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Students participating in intramural sports run the same risk of suffering a head injury as those playing in interscholastic athletic competitions. This bill would extend the same brain injury safety protocols for students who play interscholastic sports to intramural sports as well."
"Just because these students are playing intramural sports doesn't mean they are not vulnerable to potential serious injuries," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This helps ensure the safety of these students by requiring that intramural sports coaches are trained in head injury recognition."
"Serious head injuries often have delayed symptoms," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "By having response protocols in place and ensuring that intramural sports coaches are trained to recognize head injuries, we can help ensure that serious head injuries are caught before it is too late."
"Recreational sports are still competitive and can result in head injuries. If neglected, these injuries can be devastating," said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). "Including intramural sports in the head injury safety training program can ensure that head injuries that might go unnoticed, are treated."
"Young people who see recreational sports as just fun may underestimate the risk for serious head injuries," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "It's not only important that coachers are trained to identify symptoms, but that students really understand the seriousness of these injuries."
Under current law, the Department of Education was required to develop and implement a head injury safety training program on the recognition of head injury symptoms and the appropriate amount of time to delay the return to competition of a student who suffers a head injury.
The program must be completed by school physicians, coaches, and athletic trainers involved in public or nonpublic school interscholastic sports programs and cheerleading programs.
This bill (A-3799) would amend the law to include students participating in intramural sports programs organized by the school in the head injury safety training program, and require coaches of intramural sports programs to also complete the safety training program.
Under the law, school districts are required to develop a written policy concerning the prevention and treatment of sports-related concussions and other head injuries among student-athletes and cheerleaders. The law also provides that students who participate in interscholastic sports or cheerleading programs who sustain or are suspected of having sustained a concussion or other head injury while engaged in a sports competition or practice must be immediately removed from the competition or practice and may not return until evaluated and cleared by a physician.
The bill now heads to the Governor's desk.