TRENTON, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) that would require students participating in intramural sports programs to be included in the student-athlete head injury safety program has been signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.

Under current law, students who participate in interscholastic sports programs or cheerleading programs who sustain or are suspected of having sustained a concussion or other head injury while engaged in a sports competition or practice must be immediately removed from the competition or practice and may not return until evaluated and cleared by a physician.

The program must be completed by school physicians, coaches, and athletic trainers involved in public or nonpublic school interscholastic sports programs and cheerleading programs.

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The bill sponsored by Diegnan amends current law by expanding the categories to include student athletes who participate in intramural sports programs organized by a public or nonpublic schools in the head injury safety program and adds that the coaches of intramural sports programs must also complete the safety training program required for students who participate in interscholastic sports programs.

“Updating our laws to protect all of our student athletes who participate in school sports is common sense. After a concussion, returning to competition should be guided and carefully observed by a medical professional,” Diegnan said. “This legislation will ensure that happens.”

According to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, concussions represent nearly 10 percent of all high school athletic injuries. These injuries greatly impact a concussed student’s ability to concentrate, learn, memorize and process information while in classroom settings.