the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

Search form

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: President Obama Applauds Commitments to Address Sports-Related Concussions in Young People

 

Sports are one of the best ways to keep our kids active and healthy, but young people make nearly  250,000  emergency room visits each year with sport or recreation-related brain injuries. As a sports fan and a parent with two young daughters, President Obama believes we need to do more to protect the health and safety of our kids. Today, the President will host the first-ever White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit to advance research on sports-related youth concussions and raise awareness of steps to prevent, identify and respond to concussions in young people.

The truth is we still do not know enough about the consequences of traumatic brain injuries, where it’s a hard knock on the playing field or head injury sustained by one of our troops serving abroad. Every mother and father, friend and family deserves to know everything we can about the best way to care for our young athletes and veterans and that’s the core focus of today’s White House Summit.

Staying Active and Playing Safe

Each day, hundreds of thousands of young athletes head out to fields, ice rinks and gymnasiums to practice and compete in a wide variety of sports. There is no doubt that sports are a great way for kids and teens to stay healthy, as well as to learn important leadership and team-building skills. At the same time, parents are increasingly concerned about the role of concussions in sports.  Concussions can have a serious effect on young, developing brains, and can cause short- and long-term problems affecting how a child thinks, acts, learns, and feels. While most kids and teens with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some will have symptoms that last for days, or even weeks, and a more serious concussion can last longer. 

Last fall, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council published a report that found that there are gaps in our concussions research knowledge and that there is a startling lack of data on concussions, especially in youth sports.  The report also found that there is still a “culture of resistance” among athletes related to the self-reporting of concussions and the adherence to treatment plans once they experience a concussion. 

Advancing the Ball

The President believes that we can and must do better.  Raising awareness of and better protecting children and student athletes from concussions, and better identifying and treating them when they do occur, requires a team approach and we must work with the professional sports community, youth sports programs, parents, school administrators, researches, athletes, coaches, trainers, military service members and other stakeholders to make this effort successful. We all have a role to play in helping to prevent, identify and respond to concussions so that young people can remain active and healthy.  And, we can all work together to ensure that when kids do experience concussion, they are covered thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which bans insurance companies from denying health coverage to kids and adults with pre-existing conditions, allows young adults to stay on their parents plans until their 26th birthday, and offers new, affordable health coverage options.

That is why the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit is bringing together key stakeholders to highlight new commitments, including new public-private partnerships, to increase research that will expand our knowledge of concussions and to provide parents, coaches, clinicians, and young athletes tools to better prevent, identify and respond to concussions.

These commitments, many of which directly address some of the key recommendations of the IOM report, include:

Expanding Research and Improving Data Collection

  • The NCAA and the Department of Defense are jointly launching a $30 million effort to fund the most comprehensive clinical study of concussion and head impact exposure ever conducted and to issue an Educational Grand Challenge aimed at improving concussion safety behaviors in college sports and the military. This initiative aims to produce research on concussion risks, treatment and management through a multi-site longitudinal clinical study and advanced research projects.  Through an Educational Grand Challenge, the initiative aims to create novel and impactful evidence-based concussion education materials and solicit research proposals to identify key factors for affecting change in the culture and behavior of college student-athlete and other young adult populations with regard to concussions.
  • The NFL is committing $25 million over the next three years to support projects and partnerships aimed at promoting youth sports safety, including support for new pilot programs to expand access to athletic trainers in schools, in conjunction with the National Athletic Trainers Association, and to support a Back to Sports program -- a collaboration with the National PTA and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association -- to hold information sessions across the country to educate parents about sports safety and the value of sports participation and an active lifestyle.
  • The National Institutes of Health is announcing the launch of a new longitudinal research effort to detect, characterize, and measure the chronic effects of repetitive concussions to inform clinical trials aimed at preventing or slowing disease progression in the future.  NIH is being supported by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, starting with an initial investment of $16 million from its first Sports Health Program partner, the National Football League. This funding, together with grants announced at the end of last year, fulfill the $30 million commitment the NFL made to the NIH in 2012.   This fall, the NIH will convene public and private funders of concussion and TBI research, including NIH, the NFL, DoD, and NCAA, with the goal of supporting enhanced coordination among research efforts and better leveraging of public and private investments to accelerate research outcomes.
  • The UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, with a $10 million investment from Steve Tisch, UCLA’s Departments of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics will launch the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program to target sports concussion prevention, outreach, research and treatment for athletes of all ages, especially youth.  The program will focus on strategies such as community education events, including a planned Southern California youth concussion day for players, coaches, parents and trainers; a new fellowship program training the next generation of pediatric sports neurologists; longitudinal research studies to advance understanding of and treatment of concussion; and expanded treatment capacity through new multidisciplinary concussion clinics.  In addition, this commitment will support a planning initiative to inform the development of a national system to accurately determine the incidence of youth sports-related concussions.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology will invest $5 million over five years as part of the Materials Genome Initiative, to work on tools to accelerate the development of advanced materials that can provide better protection against concussions for the athlete, the warfighter and others.  These efforts aim to advance the development of new materials including light-weight, structural composite, and active or smart materials for protective gear. 
  • Pop Warner Little Scholars will participate this season in a research project modeled on the High School RIO reporting system, which tracks concussions and concussion trends in high school sports, to improve tracking of concussions among young athletes.  100 Pop Warner teams will participate in the RIO pilot.  Pop Warner provides youth football and cheer and dance programs to approximately 425,000 young people ranging in age from 5 to 16 years old.  The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will launch a comprehensive pediatric and adolescent concussion registry to enable CHOP researchers to assess data for thousands of children with concussions to improve understanding of concussions and their impact on child health.

Education and Awareness for Parents, Coaches and Athletes

  • Safe Kids Worldwide, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, will host more than 200 sports safety clinics for parents, coaches and young athletes across the country, including education on concussions, and will release a research report this summer providing updated insights into the culture of youth sports today.  The Brain Injury Association of America in collaboration with SAP will build an online application to help students, parents and educators better understand when to return to class after a concussion through a software platform that allows students, parents, educators, coaches and medical treatment providers to communicate.
  • USA Cheer will roll-out a new Head Injury Protocol to over 300,000 cheerleaders and their coaches this summer at clinics around the country to teach coaches and cheerleaders how to prevent, identify and seek treatment for any suspected head injuries.  USA Cheer and its partners, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, the U.S. All-Star Federation and the National Federation of State High School Associations will release new, updated cheerleading safety guidelines to reduce head injuries in cheerleading.
  • U.S. Soccer is establishing a Chief Medical Officer position to interface with the medical community and experts in the field of concussion management and prevention.   U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer will jointly organize a first-of-its-kind Medical Summit to, among other topics, lead a coordinated effort on concussion management and prevention initiatives. They also will use their platforms to communicate PSAs and other concussion-related messages including through U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team games, MLS games and special events, and other venues.
  • The National Federation of State High School Associations will host a concussion summit this year focused on promoting best practices to minimize injury risks in high school athletes.  NFHS writes playing rules for high school level sports, reaching more than 19,000 high schools and more than 7.7. million participants in high school sports.  The National High School Athletic Coaches Association will use its summer  convention to provide education sessions on concussion for high school coaches and expand the concussion information on its Web site.  
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will promote the use of its new Heads Up to Parents app to help parents learn how to spot concussion symptoms and what to do if they think their child or teen has a concussion.  In response to the Institute of Medicine's recommendation to evaluate education efforts, CDC will evaluate its Heads Up concussion education program to help ensure that its messages are best reaching parents, coaches and young athletes.  It also will support the evaluation of 'return to play' laws. 

Educating Health Care Providers

  • The American Academy of Neurology will host its first multidisciplinary Sports Concussion Conference this summer and continue to support a national public education campaign to increase awareness of its clinical guidelines on sports concussions.   The American Psychological Association will produce a Web-based Concussions Toolkit as a resource for psychologists on concussions research and clinical information.  The American Academy of Pediatrics anticipates releasing an updated policy statement on sports-related concussion in children and adolescents in the  fall of 2015.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will, by spring 2015, release the clinical guidelines it is developing for the appropriate diagnosis and management of children and teens with mild traumatic brain injury, including concussions, for use in doctor's offices and emergency departments.  CDC has convened a Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline Workgroup composed of leading clinical experts to support the development of these guidelines.