(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Dan Benson, Mila Jasey, Gordon Johnson, Gabriela Mosquera and Elizabeth Muoio to help guard against exacerbating conditions in students who suffer concussions was approved Monday by the Assembly.
Specifically, the bill (A-4207) stipulates that a student enrolled in a school district who sustains a concussion must receive an evaluation by a licensed health care professional and written clearance from the licensed health care professional to return to school.
“The CDC emphasizes the importance of a collaborative approach by all those involved in managing a student’s recovery from a concussion – school professionals, parents, personal physicians,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This bill would incorporate that approach to ensure the utmost caution is taken during their return to school and related activities so that they can safely meet the challenges ahead of them.”
“School professionals play an important part in a student’s development given the host of side effects that can arise from a concussion-related injury,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “It’s critical that we make sure that everyone involved in their care has knowledge of the student’s concussion and input into their integration back into school. This is crucial for a full recovery.”
In the event that the licensed health care professional provides notice that the student requires restrictions or limitations, the school district’s 504 team, as defined in N.J.A.C.6A:8-1.3, must immediately implement the restrictions or limitations and notify all teachers and staff who have contact with the student of the restrictions or limitations.
The school district’s 504 team must promptly identify the manner in which the restrictions or limitations will be provided to the student during recovery, the need for the continuation or adjustment of the restrictions or limitations, and determine the duration of the restrictions or limitations.
“Recovery time for concussions is usually longer for young people than it is for adults,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Making sure that schools are prepared can ensure that students who return to school after a concussion will receive the support needed to boost their recovery.”
“Concussion symptoms can develop days; sometimes even weeks after an injury,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Students spend a good portion of their day in the classroom. It makes sense to include teachers and other school staff in their recovery plan to avoid any complications.”
“Concussions are brain injuries and therefore must be treated with the utmost caution, both short and long term,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “Young people spend a big part of their day in school. Students need to be carefully monitored to address possible dangerous side-effects.”
“It’s critical that schools have all hands on deck when a child who has suffered a concussion returns to school,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Having a response plan guided by the recommendations of a health care professional can help spot problematic side effects and prevent aggravating the injury.”
“Kids, especially younger children, are rambunctious by nature,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It is wise to put all the adults who will have access to a child who is recovering from a concussion on high alert to prevent the child from inadvertently causing further injury.”
“It can be difficult for parents to send their child to school after such a scare,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This could help relieve some of that parental anxiety by ensuring that school staff is aware of the situation and is taking the necessary measures to assist the child in his or her recovery.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year hundreds of thousands of K-12 students sustain a concussion as a result of a fall, motor-vehicle crash, collision on the playground or sports field, or other activity. The bill approved incorporates guidelines offered by the CDC to help students return to school after a concussion.
The bill also stipulates that a student enrolled in a school district who sustains a concussion is prohibited from engaging in any physical activity at school until the student is evaluated by and receives written clearance from a licensed health care professional to participate.
The sponsor’s intent is to have the 504 team use the licensed health care professional’s diagnosis and recommendations to guide restrictions and limitations upon the student’s return to school for the period of time prescribed by the licensed health care professional.
The bill was approved 75-0 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.