Pallone Calls for Meaningful Action to Address Risks Posed by Concussions & Repetitive Brain Trauma

Mar 14, 2016 Issues: Health Care

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) called for meaningful action to address the serious health risks posed by concussion and repetitive brain trauma.  At an unofficial roundtable discussion, Pallone insisted that the Committee conduct a more in-depth review to examine the causes, effects, treatment, and prevention of concussions.

“It is time to accept the mounting evidence that there is a linkage between head impacts and brain damage, and it is time to do something about it,” Pallone said in his opening remarks.  “While there is research that still needs to be done in order to answer all the questions, this should not be an excuse for inaction.  We should be examining not only the state of the science, but also looking to how we can apply what we know right now – to protect our service men and women, our athletes, and our kids.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur each year.  However, the risks posed by subconcussive hits are equally concerning.  Football players, including high school players, may experience 1,000 to 1,500 subconcussive hits over the course of a typical regular season.  Additionally, researchers have found evidence linking repetitive hits to the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, depression, and eventually, dementia. 

During the roundtable, Pallone asked for a more formal Committee process to fully examine the science surrounding concussions, given the gravity of the topic.  In a letter sent to Chairman Upton, Pallone requested that a series of official hearings be held to conduct a more in-depth review of this public health issue and allow members to hear from all those personally affected by concussions, including former athletes, service members, and their families.

Pallone proposed that the Committee hold hearings focusing on:

·         Head impacts in youth sports

·         Protective gear used in contact sports

·         Head impacts in college and professional sports

·         Diagnosing and treating concussions

The full text of the letter is available here.