TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz that would boost the state’s extensive efforts to protect high school student athletes from head injuries has been signed into law.
The law (S-3053) provides specifically that cheerleaders and their coaches are included in the student-athlete head injury safety program required by a new law signed last year. The law made New Jersey the state with the most comprehensive concussion prevention and treatment program in the country.
“New Jersey has done a tremendous amount of work to protect high school students participating in sports from head injuries. Given the documented number of student-athletes who have suffered concussions, and the potential long-term affects of these injuries, we know that the education and training that our state laws require is a critical component of our athletics programs,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex/Union), chair of the Senate Education Committee. “However, statistics show that cheerleaders are also at high risk of suffering head injuries. This law will ensure that cheerleaders and their coaches are included in the head injury safety program required in New Jersey schools and provided the tools that are necessary to keep them safe.”
The 2010 law required the Department of Education to implement an interscholastic athletic head injury safety training program this academic year to educate school physicians, coaches and athletic trainers on the warning signs and symptoms of head and neck injuries and concussions. The law also required school districts to develop a written policy on the prevention and treatment of sports-related head injuries among student athletes, and requires the immediate removal from competition or practice of a student-athlete who sustains or is suspected of sustaining a head injury.
“Cheerleading has changed considerably in recent years and squads are integrating increasingly difficult acrobatic stunts into their routines which place them at high risk for injuries,” said Senator Ruiz. “By requiring their participation in the state’s head injury safety program, we will ensure that cheerleaders and their coaches are aware of the risk of injury involved in these activities and are adequately trained to respond if an incident occurs.”
The bill (S-3053) was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 78-0; it was approved in the Senate by a vote of 37-0.