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  Children's National expert testifies before Congress to advance legislation on concussions
September 24, 2010

Washington, DC — Children’s National Medical Center’s internationally recognized concussion expert testified today before the Committee on Education and Labor of the United States House of Representatives to advocate for legislation that would require stricter concussion management for young athletes. Gerard Gioia, PhD, is the chief of neuropsychology and the director of the Safe Concussion Outcome Recovery and Education (SCORE) Program at Children’s National.

Dr. Gioia is part of a panel of experts that aims to implement a policy that requires student athletes to sit out of games and practices if a concussion is suspected. Dr. Gioia has been instrumental developing the CDC’s materials on safe concussion management in children. He also has played a significant role in enacting this type of concussion policy in Virginia and helping Washington, DC, introduce a similar measure.

“At this point in time, schools are not adequately prepared with the necessary systems, knowledge, and skills to properly support the return of the concussed student-athlete,” said Dr. Gioia in his testimony. “Students with more severe brain injuries have a vehicle of academic support services via the special education system, but students with mild TBI and concussion do not typically meet the criteria for special education services.”

Dr. Gioia’s work has shown that young athletes and their still-developing brains are especially vulnerable to long term consequences and re-injury if they do not allow time to heal. His guidelines for his patients include no return to the field of play after an injury, as well as minimal cognitive activity during recuperation. The proposed “Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act” would require that schools:

  • Develop policies and methods for concussion education and training for parents, students, and coaches, and
  • Provide a means of academic support to those who have suffered concussions.
“Our current research finds adverse effects on school learning, with close to 90 percent of students in our clinics reporting significant worsening of post-concussion symptoms when they attempt school tasks. In our clinic sample, these problems persisted well beyond a month for many students,” said Dr. Gioia. “We also find that schools in general are not prepared to provide the necessary supports and accommodations to the recovering student. We must provide effective treatments that maximize the student’s recovery and minimize any long-term post-concussion problems.”

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Contact: Paula Darte or Jennifer Stinebiser: 202-476-4500

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Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, has been serving the nation’s children since 1870. Home to Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is consistently ranked among the top pediatric hospitals by U.S.News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. With 283 beds, more than 1,330 nurses, 550 physicians, and seven regional outpatient centers, Children’s National is the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington metropolitan area. Children’s National has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet® designated hospital, the highest level of recognition for nursing excellence that a medical center can achieve. For more information, visit www.ChildrensNational.org, receive the latest news from the Children's National press room, or follow us Facebook and Twitter.