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Oregon’s New Law to Help Students with Brain Injuries

One of the few laws that was passed in Oregon’s special legislative session in early 2020 was House Bill (HB) 4140, which is intended to help schools give academic accommodations for students diagnosed with a brain injury such as a concussion.

Oregon has passed good laws in the past to help with sport-related brain injuries in both school and non-school programs.  Those laws primarily try to make sure that coaches receive training to recognize brain injuries so that students can get proper medical care and avoid returning to play prematurely.  Until HB 4140, there was no Oregon law designed to help public schools make adjustments to protect children after they have sustained a concussion or other brain injury.

The immediate needs after a child has a head injury are to get medical care.  After the initial care, many with brain injuries receive surprisingly little guidance and support.  The current majority view is that a person with a brain injury should not prematurely return to certain activities, or there is an increased risk that the brain injury could take longer to heal or could become permanent. During that time, the injured person may need such things as rest, reduced or no reading, reduced or no screen time, avoidance of bright lights, and other measures.

HB 4140 directs the Oregon Department of Education to develop a form for public education programs so that when students are diagnosed with a brain injury the form will assist schools in providing appropriate non-medical accommodations for the student.

Hats off to The Center on Brain Injury Research and Training (CBIRT) at the University of Oregon, and David Kracke, its Brain Injury Advocate-Coordinator, who wrote the first draft of HB 4140.