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Youth Sports Concussion and Return to Play Laws

posted on Thu, Dec 10 2015 9:50 am by The Network

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HEADS UP program, 300,000 mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI), also known as concussions, are sustained during sports related activities nationwide, with more than 62,000 of those sustained in high school contact sports. Among the concerns related to concussions are the conditions that are the consequence of brain injury and so-called “second-impact syndrome,” which occurs when a person sustains a second concussion while still experiencing symptoms of a previous concussion, which can lead to severe impairment or death.

The Network was recently contacted by a requester seeking information about Michigan’s return-to-play law, which requires immediate removal of a student athlete from athletic activity if that athlete is suspected of sustaining a concussion and stipulates that the athlete cannot return to physical activity until he or she has been evaluated by, and issued a written clearance from, an appropriate health professional. The requester wanted to know what provisions the law may have for enforcing requirements and addressing violations.

The Network found that while Michigan laws (333.9155 and 333.9156) require education about the dangers of concussion for student athletes and their parents or guardians, as well as online concussion training for all coaches, employees, volunteers, and other adults involved with a youth athletic program, the state’s return-to-play law does not contain an enforcement or penalty provision. As such, in order to provide a penalty for violations, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would have to seek injunctive relief or work with the Attorney General to enforce the law.

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