Assembly advances DiMaio bill requiring students with concussions to be evaluated by doctor

Assembly advances DiMaio bill requiring students with concussions to be evaluated by doctor

John DiMaio

TRENTON, N.J. – Students with head injuries will need a doctor’s note before returning to school says an Assembly panel that approved a measure today sponsored by Assemblyman John DiMaio.

The bill (A1599) requires all public school students to receive written clearance from a physician before going back to the classroom or participating in school-sponsored physical activity.

“Concussions don’t only happen on the football or soccer fields,” said DiMaio (R-Warren). “Head injuries should be taken very seriously regardless of whether they occurred from a slip in a stairwell or a tackle on the field. Returning to academic or physical activity too soon can worsen its effects, especially for adolescents. They need to fully recover before returning to a normal daily routine.”

The legislation also requires teachers and staff be told what restrictions doctors prescribe during recovery and ensure they are followed.

“Children may not be able to articulate what they are feeling as well as adults, so it might not always be apparent how badly they are injured. That is why it is so important to involve licensed health care professionals who are experienced in diagnosing and treating concussions whenever there is any type of head injury,” concluded DiMaio.

Almost half a million kids are treated in an emergency department for traumatic brain injuries with concussions accounting for about 90 percent of the cases. Fifty percent of brain injuries among children are due to falls. Nearly one in five teenagers have suffered a head trauma, according to a 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association report. Participation in contact sports significantly increases the odds of experiencing a concussion.

The Assembly Education Committee unanimously advanced the bill on Wednesday. It now goes to the speaker for further consideration.