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Issue Brief: Sports Related Traumatic Brain Injury and Return-to-Learn Provisions

posted on Thu, May 7 2015 4:13 pm by Kerri McGowan Lowrey, Eastern Region

Sports-related concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), has received much attention over the past few years. The potential impact on child and adolescent health is significant and nationwide, because so many young people participate in youth and school sports in the United States.

The effects of concussion not only impact the injured child’s ability to compete in athletics, but also their ability to perform academically and to participate in classroom activities. Symptoms following a concussion often include difficulty concentrating or remembering material, fatigue, depression, and increased sensitivity to light and noise, all of which make returning to school difficult for injured students.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia now have some form of youth sports-related TBI law. All of the state laws contain provisions about returning an athlete to the playing field, but very few state laws address returning to academics after concussion. "Return-to-learn" provisions have been adopted by seven states, and with one exception, they fall into two categories: (1) general provisions that direct schools or state agencies to develop guidelines or protocols for students returning to the classroom following a concussion and (2) provisions that detail specific requirements for the creation of a state wide return to learn platform.

This issue brief examines the health risks associated with youth sports related TBIs and summarizes current return-to-learn provisions in seven states.

View/download issue brief.