As increased awareness has sharpened the spotlight on concussions, coaches from the littlest leagues to the NFL are paying closer attention to such injuries.

Spurred by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intends to study and develop national guidelines for managing sports-related concussions for young athletes.

While they are usually not life threatening, the lingering aftermath of memory loss, throbbing headaches and depression could lead to lifelong problems.

Most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness; in the not too distant past, the protocol for taking care of knocked-down athletes with no visible sign of injury was encouraging them to brush it off and get back on the field. In some case, that advice led to death.

When professional athletes take heavy hits to the head, there are daily updates on their condition; in recent years, the well-being of student athletes has been receiving more scrutiny.

The CDC reports that from 1997 to 2007, the number of emergency room visits for sports-related concussions had doubled for children ages 8 to 13. It more than tripled for high school-age athletes, including soccer players and cheerleaders. That all adds up to about 135,000 sports-related and recreation-related traumatic injuries a year.

The CDC’s formation of a panel of experts to talk about possible guidelines for pediatricians on how to diagnose and treat concussions underlines the seriousness of this health problem.

The move to make sure schools across the country are on the same page when addressing concussion injuries cannot be underestimated; not all states have addressed this issue.

Governor Cuomo recently approved legislation addressing concussions in interschoolastic competition. The law requires athletes who are suspected of having sustained a concussion be removed from play and not be permitted to return until medically cleared.

While the law is a start, it barely touches the surface of what is required. As an example, while the law does mandate physician clearance before a return to play, it does not mandate that the “clearing physician” possess any special training in the treatment of concussions. Nor does it provide for monitoring of the these students or providing academic accommodations to those suffering cognitive symptoms secondary to the concussion.

In developing national guidelines for managing sports-related concussions, the CDC must go further than most state legislation and address these, and other, issues if the student athlete is to be adequately protected and cared for