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“Return to Play” Laws Legislate Concussion Safety in Sports

Tuesday, October 24, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

You’re watching your son’s soccer game and see him run in to another player and fall to the ground. You rush down to the field and see the coach helping him up. Your son seems dazed and confused, but the coach wants him to continue to play. But you’ve read about concussions and realize that early diagnosis is vital to recovery. If there is any possibility that your son has a concussion you know he should not return to play and the coach should know that too.

Unfortunately, many coaches are not aware of the warning signs of a concussion or are so focused on winning a game that they may push a key player to continue to play even when it’s not in his best interest.

Many states have passed laws relating to this precise issue. “Return to Play” laws legislate concussion safety in sports and prevent coaches from putting a player back on the field or court when a concussion is suspected. Research shows that many catastrophic head injuries are a direct result of injured athletes returning to play too soon, often without fully recovering from an initial head injury. Exercising caution is especially important for minors as youth athletes take longer to recover from concussions and are more susceptible to long-term, serious problems.

In California, section 49475 of the California Education Code mandates that all coaches must receive training on concussions. The training may be fulfilled through the free, online course available through the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The law further requires that an athlete who is suspected of having a concussion be removed immediately from play for the rest of the day. If a concussion is even suspected, the coach cannot direct the child to continue to play until he or she is evaluated by a licensed health care provider.

In the case of an athlete who has suffered an actual concussion, the law goes even further. In order to return to play after a concussion, the athlete must follow a graduated Return to Play Protocol where an athlete must be symptom-free for at least 7 days as determined by a licensed health care provider before returning to play. The reason for the graduated protocol is that medical experts agree that a gradual, step by step return to play allows the brain time to properly recover.

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic brain injury, the compassionate and experienced personal injury attorneys at the Alexander Law Group, LLP will be with you every step of the way. Our goal is to help our clients and their families receive proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You can reach one of our San Francisco personal injury attorneys at 888.777.1776, or you can contact us online.

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