Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today introduced legislation in the Senate to create a grant program that would help ensure proper prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sports-related concussions in U.S. high schools and middle schools. The Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act establishes a five year grant program, authorized at $5 million for the first year, to be distributed to states to implement proven concussion management strategies. Rep. Bill Pascrell previously introduced this legislation in the House of Representatives.

"Our high schoolers playing in the state football championships, and all of our children playing school sports, should be able to focus on achieving their goals on the field without worrying about a concussion that can affect them off the field," said Senator Menendez. "As the National Football League bolsters its own concussion treatment programs, many parents are wondering if enough attention has been devoted to concussions in school sports. Great strides in the prevention, diagnosis and management of concussions have been made in recent years. We want to make sure that the most advanced strategies are being implemented for our high school and middle school athletes."

"People across the nation are becoming increasingly aware that traumatic brain injury isn't just a concern for auto-accident victims or soldiers in the battlefield. It concerns any family with a child who is athletically active," said Pascrell, the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force who originally introduced the ConTACT Act in November 2008. "Senator Menendez recognizes the importance of this legislation in protecting middle-school and high school athletes throughout our country. I sincerely thank him for introducing this legislation in the U.S. Senate and look forward to working with him in seeing this bill through the legislative process."

Under the legislation, grants would be awarded to states to implement best practices in concussion management for school-sponsored sports and fund schools' implementation of baseline and post-concussion neuropsychological testing technologies. Best practices would be developed by a conference of medical, athletic, and education stakeholders and will be used to model grant guidelines.

Facts on Concussions

• Baseline testing has become common in professional and college sports but is far less common in high school sports.

• Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI)

• As many as 3.8 million concussions related to sports and recreation are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year.

• As many as 41% of concussed high school athletes may be returning to play too soon.

• A repeat concussion-one that occurs before the brain recovers from a previous concussion-can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems.

• In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in second impact syndrome, which can be marked by brain swelling, permanent brain damage, and death.

• Many national organizations-including the American Academy of Neurology, the National Football League, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Brain Injury Association of America-have adopted concussion management guidelines, but multiple directives have created confusion.