Rowan Stringer died on Mother’s Day after suffering two concussions in the span of under a week due to a condition, known as ‘second impact syndrome.’ Rowan’s story might have been exceptionally tragic, but concussions in youth sports are not rare.
According to an Angus Reid Poll, one out of five Canadians have suffered a concussion while playing sports. Health Canada says that “among children and youth (10-18 years) who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39% were diagnosed with concussions while a further 24% were possible concussions.”
What is Rowan’s Law?
Out of the tragedy of Rowan Stringer’s death came Bill 193, better known as Rowan’s Law. Rowan’s Law was passed in Ontario in 2018, making it the first piece of legislation dealing with concussions passed by any Canadian province.
The law has four main components designed to deal with concussions at all levels:
1) A code of conduct sports organisations must follow
All sports organisations have to create an internal code of conduct that falls in line with the requirements of Rowan’s Law. They must also create internal protocols to ensure the safety of their participants
2) Concussion awareness
Every organisation must ensure that their athletes (and the parents of any athlete under 18) are aware of the risks of concussion. They must be provided with resources approved by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. For athletes under 18, parents must confirm that they have read all materials related to the new provisions. Coaches must also be trained and understand all new concussion guidelines associated with their sports.
3) Removal from sports protocol
Any athlete who is suspected of suffering from a concussion must be removed from the sport (including competitions and practice) and can only return once they have passed the ‘return to sport’ protocol.
Every organisation must create a removal from sports process. This process must have a specific role in ensuring that any players suspected of suffering a concussion do not return except through the organization’s return to sports protocol.
4) Return to sports protocol
Any athlete suspected of having a concussion must be reintroduced to the sport safely, and every organisation must have a clear process for doing so with an assigned individual to ensure that the protocol is followed.
These regulations should help ensure that athletes suffering from concussions are not put at risk. Another benefit of Rowan’s Law is that knowledge of the risks of concussions will grow and the negative stigma around head injuries will decrease. Too many athletes (especially young athletes) hide their concussion in order to ‘play through the pain’ without realising they are putting themselves at serious health risks and injuries.
Concussions are Serious Brain Injuries
Concussions are traumatic brain injuries, and even when they do not result in death, they can still have serious long term consequences. According to the Centre for Disease Control long term side effects of traumatic brain injuries (like concussions) can seriously affect:
- Memory and reasoning
- Sight and balance
- Communication and understanding
- Other cognitive issues.
In addition to these cognitive issues, concussions can cause changes in personality and emotions and even depression, anxiety, aggression, and misbehaviour.
Sports Concussions & Personal Injury Law
Although Ontario was the first province to pass legislation protecting youth athletes from the risks of concussions, we hope it is not the last. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries with potentially life-altering consequences. They should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you know has suffered a serious concussion injury, contact Zayouna Law to ensure your rights are protected. Call us at 1-866-929-6862 for a FREE consultation!