Legislation Improving Concussion Management Clears Committee

Raising awareness of the effects concussions can have – especially on student athletes, two measures sponsored by Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera were approved by the Assembly Education Committee on Thursday.

The first bill (A-1837) requires public school students with concussions to be evaluated by licensed health care professionals before returning to school. In addition, school districts would be required to provide restrictions or limitations to students when needed.

Under the bill, a public school student who sustains a concussion must be evaluated and receive written clearance from a licensed health care professional to return to school. As defined in the bill, a “licensed health care professional” is a health care provider whose scope of practice includes the ability to diagnose and treat concussions.

In the event that the licensed health care professional provides notice that the student requires restrictions or limitations, the school district 504 team, as defined in N.J.A.C.6A:8-1.3, (a group of persons that makes program and placement decisions according to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and 34 CFR § 104.35(c)), must immediately implement the restrictions or limitations and notify all teachers and staff who have contact with the student.

The school district’s 504 team would promptly identify the manner in which the restrictions or limitations would be provided during recovery, and the need for the continuation or adjustment of the restrictions or limitations, and to determine the duration of the restrictions or limitations.

“Concussion symptoms can develop days; sometimes even weeks after an injury,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Students spend a good portion of their day in the classroom. It makes sense to include certain school staff in their recovery plan to avoid any complications.”

The second measure (A-2655) would allow other licensed health care providers trained in the evaluation and management of concussions in addition to physicians to provide written clearance for student-athlete return to physical activity.

Current law only allows physicians to provide written clearance for a student to return to play. This bill would expand that right to other licensed health care providers as well.