Zebrowski: Assembly bill aims to curb harmful effects of brain injuries

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that alter the way a brain functions. They can cause headaches, dizziness and amnesia. Fast and proper responses are crucial in reducing these dreadful effects. That’s why I sponsored a bill that would establish rules and regulations for coaches, teachers and other school personnel when they are treating and monitoring students who suffer mild traumatic brain injuries (A.8194).

Concussions are usually caused by a blow to the head, but they can also happen when the head and upper body are violently shaken. Typically, symptoms are temporary, but some persist, lasting for days, weeks or even longer. For example, problems that may occur after a concussion are trouble with concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination. The signs of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately obvious. That’s why it’s particularly important for school personnel to be well-informed about brain injuries.

According to the Saint Clare’s Health System’s Concussion Center for Children and Adolescents, each year in the United States, an estimated 3.8 million concussions are related to sports and recreation; 10 percent of all contact-sport athletes experience concussions yearly; 41 percent of athletes start playing sports again too soon after having a concussion; and an athlete who suffers a concussion once is four to six times more likely to suffer a second concussion.

Those statistics are staggering. Participating in school sports should not put students’ health and well-being in jeopardy. Concussions must be taken seriously. Effective, precautionary measures must be established. I urge the governor to support this vital piece of legislation. It will help prevent students on school properties from enduring the dire effects of brain injuries.