Rowan’s Law and Concussion Injury
In a much anticipated move to prevent, detect, manage and understand concussion injury in amateur athletes, the Ontario government introduced Bill 193, Rowan’s Law . The proposed new law is named after Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old Ottawa-area rugby player who died in 2013 after suffering several concussions.
The past few years have seen a growing awareness of concussion injuries and the deadly impact of returning to sport before these injuries are treated and a concussion injury has healed. This proposed new law will serve as a benchmark for Canada in concussion awareness, prevention, detection and management.
What is required after a concussion injury ?
The bill has a number of key elements that would require athletes, coaches, educators and parents to:
· Conduct an annual review of concussion awareness resources.
· Set out and adhere to a system to ensure that athletes suspected of having a concussion are removed from sport and establish a protocol for their safe return.
· Establish a return-to-sport procedure for athletes who have sustained a concussion, or who are suspected of having sustained a concussion.
To create further awareness, the legislation would also proclaim “Rowan’s Law Day” to be observed on the last Wednesday of September.
Study after study has proven that too many young people experience concussions while participating in organized sports and recreational activities, sometimes with tragic outcomes. This has become a public health issue and with dire consequences.
· 64 per cent of visits to hospital emergency departments among 10-18 year-olds are related to participation in sports, physical activity and recreation.
· Among children and youth (10-18 years) who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 per cent were suspected of possible concussions.
· Football, soccer and hockey have all shown a greater than 40% increase in rates of reported head injury (relative to other injuries) between 2004 and 2014 for children and youth.
As a parent and coach, I have been trained to recognize the symptoms of head injuries, but this is not the case with all coaches, teachers, group leaders and parents.
Thankfully, the Ontario government has moved swiftly in introducing this legislation. It is an important first step in changing the way we treat sports injuries and in championing the well-being of amateur athletes.