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March 19, 2012

Concussion Care Mandatory in Schools

Last week, Mike Holroyd commented on the challenges involved when getting a student back into the classroom after suffering a concussion. His post encourages teachers and school professionals to be involved in the student’s recovery.

A bill was introduced last week in Ontario that would require school boards to institute a brain-injury prevention and management policy. Concussion training would be mandated for school staff and parents. New standards of care would be set to more effectively monitor a student’s recovery.

So far, BC is the only other province considering a concussion-related law. Last November, BC proposed the Concussions in Youth Sport Safety Act. The Act would enforce the following concussion protocol in youth sports organizations:

  • Organizations must inform and educate coaches, youth athletes, and their parents of the nature and risk of concussion and head injuries.
  • Each year, a concussion and head injury information sheet must be signed and returned by a youth athlete and their parents prior to practice or competition.
  • A youth athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury must be removed from competition immediately.
  • An injured athlete must not return to play until they have received clearance to return to play by a health care professional.

The Concussions in Youth Sport Safety Act is a step in the right direction. But Ontario’s proposed legislation is important because it’s the first to make schools legally responsible for concussion prevention and care.

The impact of a concussion is felt as much in the classroom as on the playing field. As Ontario’s Minister of Education Laurel Broten points out, a “return-to-learn” plan is as important as a “return-to-play”plan.

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