Senators: Concussion study shows need for sports equipment rules

Lawmakers say that a new study makes the case for adding restrictions on sports equipment companies to protect children from concussions.

A report from the Institute of Medicine released on Wednesday found that “much remains unknown” about concussions among young people, but that youth sports equipment does not protect young athletes from the head injuries.

The study, Sen. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.) said in a statement, “adds to the mounting evidence against sports equipment manufacturers that claim their products reduce the risk of concussions.”

“These claims are profoundly dishonest to our young athletes, parents and coaches,” he added.

This year, Rockefeller and Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallDemocratic National Convention event calendar The Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Energy: Senate spending bill takes aim at EPA rules MORE (D-N.M.) introduced the Youth Sports Concussion Act, which would increase the potential penalties for making false claims about safety on youth sports equipment.

“Playing sports is an important part of growing up and of the culture of New Mexico's communities,” Udall said in a statement. “But parents deserve to know how safe their children's safety equipment really is. While we can't reduce every risk, we should do everything we can to stop misleading advertising that gives parents a false sense of security.” 

The Institute of Medicine's survey reviewed existing literature and science about youths’ concussions from sporting events.

It concluded that “there is a lack of data concerning the overall incidence of sports-related concussions in youth, although the number of reported concussions has risen over the past decade.” 

It also found that most sports equipment does not protect against concussions.

“The committee finds limited evidence that current helmet designs reduce the risk of sports-related concussions and no evidence that mouthguards or facial protection reduce concussion risk, although suck protective equipment protects against other injuries, such as skull fractures and injuries to the mouth and face,” it states.