Our government has enacted policies that help protect, educate, and offer support to people with brain injury. Policies have also encouraged research and injury prevention programs across the country.
In May of 2009, for example, Washington State passed the Zackery Lystedt Law, which requires high school athletes to be evaluated by a licensed healthcare professional if they suffered a concussion.
“It would be great if concussions in youth sports did not exist, but they do,” explained Richard H. Adler, president of the Brain Injury Association of Washington. “The question is what to do about them. That’s what this law is all about.”
The Zackary Lystedt Law is a prevention-based policy; it is meant to help reduce the risk of greater injury. A good policy, however, can have many different goals.
What are policies, exactly?
Public policies are the rules that govern our society. They are created and agreed upon through a democratic process and are upheld by our government. As our culture changes, the policies that we live by must be revisited and possibly changed to accommodate the needs of everyday citizens.
Policies that apply to people with brain injury
Because a brain injury may result in a disability, many of the federal policies concerning Americans with disabilities apply. But there are also a number of policies specific to people with brain injury.
The largest and most encompassing federal policy is called the TBI Act of 1996, which annually provides millions of dollars of funding to state health systems that address the needs of people with brain injury.
The Congressional Task Force on Brain Injury, formed by a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders, maintains an updated website that lists key policies and initiatives that affect civilians, service members, and veterans with TBI. The Brain Injury Association of America also provides a regular update about federal policies through their Policy and Legislation Corner.
To learn about the policies specific to your state, visit the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators website, which offers a glance at the various initiatives and programs occurring in your community.
Policy can change lives.
Since the Zackery Lystedt law came into effect in Washington, several other states have created policies that govern how coaches must respond to sports-related concussions. These new concussion laws will undoubtedly reduce the risk of a terrible type of brain injury known as “second impact syndrome.”
Sports concussion laws are a clear example of how good policies can help create a safer world for everyone. There are many other policies that apply to the different aspects of brain injury, and there are still many areas pertaining to brain injury where good policies do not exist. While policies require a lot of work to achieve widespread acceptance and approval, they can end up benefitting a large number of people.