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CONCUSSIONS ARE FOCUS OF U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING

Date: 10/20/11

SILVER SPRING, MD – October 20, 2011 – On Wednesday, October 19 in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation met to examine the issue of head injuries suffered by athletes every year while playing sports.  One of the specific goals of the hearing was to examine what could be done to reduce the number of concussions suffered by athletes, especially children.

This Senate Committee acknowledged that sports are an important part of the cultural experience growing up in the United States, but also realizes the risk of concussions needs to be addressed at the national level.  With that in mind, former athletes, neurologists, and the executive director from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) were invited to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress.  SGMA and USA Football submitted statements for the record. 

“Our hearing today is about the head injuries that tens of thousands of these athletes sustain every year while playing the sports they love,” said Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV).  “Many of us are reluctant to talk about the risks involved in playing sports because we know what a positive role sports play in our communities. The last thing we would want to do is discourage young people from playing sports.”

“We all recognize that participation in sports activities carries some risk of injury,” said SGMA, in its written statement.  “While our (members’) products are designed to reduce that risk, no protective equipment can completely eliminate the risk.  No helmet, regardless of design, material construction or technology can prevent all concussions.  With that realization, our companies strive through research, innovation, testing, refinement and consumer education to deliver products with improved protective qualities and properties, thereby enhancing the sport experience for the participant.”
"I think (sporting goods) equipment is going to improve this issue, but it’s not going to solve this issue,” testified Ann McKee, a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University, according to ABC News.  “We really have to address the way sports are played."

“We also know, until there is more definitive medical science, there is a limit in what a helmet can accomplish in the elimination of concussions from sports,” continued SGMA.  “Until there is a consensus in concussion science, the helmet industry is taking a multidisciplinary approach of working with (athletic) trainers to insure equipment fits correctly, sport governing bodies create rules for protecting players from unnecessary helmet-to-helmet contact, and working with coaches to adopt proper sport-play techniques, thereby changing the current football culture to understand the seriousness of the concussion issue.”

"The potential harm that I see being caused by products that claim to prevent concussion, when they do not, is far more than simply the financial harm of paying more for something that isn’t likely to work as claimed,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and the director of Michigan Neurosport, a clinic that diagnoses and treats concussions for athletes, stated that there are no pieces of equipment that can significantly prevent concussions. "It is the harm that comes from having a false sense of security, from not understanding how the injury occurs and what can actually be done to prevent it."

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by fostering participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion, and public policy.  More information about SGMA membership, SGMA Research, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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