New Legislation in Place Regarding Concussions in High School Sports

High school coaches and administration are about to find themselves with new legislation designed to protect high school students participating in school sports, as well as in physical education classes from the long term negative impacts

“Everyone – students, parents, teachers, coaches and volunteers – has a role to play to help prevent and manage concussions. To ensure our students succeed, we all need to be aware of how to prevent and identify a possible concussion,” said Laurel Broten, Ontario’s Minister of Education on the Ontario website.

Although the new legislation, put forward by as a part of Dalton McGuinty’s safe schools platform, targets concussion prevention in Ontario schools, it also looks at ensuring students who have suffered a concussion are not premautrely returning to play.

The Ontario government also stated Professor of Nuerosurgery at the University of Toronto, Charles H. Tator in their preliminary release about the legislation,

“As a brain surgeon who sees many school kids and youths with concussions and other brain injuries in my practice, I am very proud that the government of my province will be the first in Canada to introduce legislation designed to improve the recognition and management of concussions in schools. This legislation would help to prevent some concussions from happening, and would also improve the management of those who have had a concussion.”

Ontario is the first province to introduce legislation surrounding concussions in school sports and physical education classes. Last year, close to 20,000 Ontario residents visited emergency rooms with concussions, with nearly 40% of those visits coming from school aged children. It is speculated that thousands of additional concussions went undiagnosed.

The Education Ammendment Act on Concussions will aim to educate parents, students, and staff about the seriousness of concussions, build awareness of concussion risks and proper post-concussion management, as well as to establish a committee to advise on the prevention, management, and identification of concussions in school.

Have your say. Do you think this legislation is necessary? Do you have any concerns?

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    Brian Hall 10 years

    Since this legislation is only at first reading, it will be some time before it takes effect. In the meantime, the OPHEA guidelines are in place and if followed are excellent.

    As a Rugby coach and learning facilitator, the most frustrating part of this issue is raising awareness in the athletes and their parents. Concussions happen, and they are not the end of the world if managed properly. But too often I see players attempting to return to competition too early, with their parents and sometimes even their Doctors support.

    The International Rugby Board has created an excellent protocol, backed up by online education and downloadable material. OPHEA enhances this for High School athletes, requiring that players must participate in a minimum of 8 practices in contact before playing in competition.

    What I don’t want to see is a standard which can’t be met here in Chatham-Kent, like a concussed player must be cleared by a neurosurgeon for example. I also don’t want local boards, which are becoming risk averse, killing off sports where there is a perception concussions are more likely.

    I just hope that the Ministry of Education and the School Boards don’t over react.