Posted on June 7, 2010 · Posted in Brain Injury

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill regarding sports concussions in student athletes. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1259191&format=text

The proposed legislation would set up a head-injury safety training program for coaches, trainers and parent volunteers who take part in school athletics. Doctors and nurses employed by a school would also be trained to spot signs of concussions.

Another part of the bill requires health officials to keep coaches  up-to-date on athletes who have had prior head injuries. That will enable schools to identify students at greater risk for repeated injuries.

Young people participating in sports or recreational activities sustain between 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions each year, most of which are not diagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The text of the bill is as follows:

SENATE, No. 2267

Senate, February 10, 2010

The committee on Public Health, to whom was referred the petition (accompanied by petition, Senate, No. 796), relating to safety regulations for school athletic programs, reported, recommending a new draft of the same title (Senate, No. 2267).

Susan C. Fargo,
For the committee

Version with line numbers

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts


In the Year Two Thousand and Nine.


AN ACT RELATING TO SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR SCHOOL ATHLETIC PROGRAMS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

 

Chapter 111 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding at the conclusion thereof the following new section:

Section 223

This Section shall apply to all public schools within the Commonwealth and to any other school in the Commonwealth whose athletic programs are subject to Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules.

The department shall direct the Division of Violence and Injury Prevention to develop an interscholastic athletic Head Injury Safety Training program to be completed by the following individuals: coaches, trainers and parent volunteers for any extracurricular athletic activity; physicians who are employed by a school or school district, or who volunteers to assist with an extracurricular athletic activity; directors responsible for a school marching band; and a parent or legal guardian of a child who participates in an extracurricular athletic activity.

In developing said program, the department may use any of the materials readily available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Red Cross.  The safety training shall include, but not be limited to current training in recognizing the symptoms of potentially catastrophic head and neck injuries, concussions, and injuries related to second impact syndrome.

As part of the interscholastic athletic Head Injury Safety Training program, school districts shall provide to students participating in any extracurricular athletic activity the following information;  a summary of department rules and regulations relative to safety regulations for student participation in extracurricular athletic activities;  including protocol for post concussion participation or participation in an extracurricular athletic activity after becoming unconscious; and written information related to the recognition of symptoms of head injuries, information regarding the biology and short-term and long-term consequences of concussions.

The department shall develop forms to provide coaches with up-to-date information of their athletes head injury history to enable them to identify those students who are at greater risk for repeated head injuries.  These forms would require students to provide information each season relative to their sports head injury history prior to receiving clearance to participate in an extracurricular athletic activity.  These forms would require the signature of both the student and their parent or legal guardian.

A coach, trainer or volunteer for an extracurricular athletic activity shall not encourage or permit a student participating in the activity to engage in any unreasonably dangerous athletic technique that unnecessarily endangers the health of a student, including using a helmet or any other sports equipment as a weapon.

If a student participating in an extracurricular athletic activity becomes unconscious during a practice or competition the student may not return to the practice or competition during which the student became unconscious; or participate in any extracurricular athletic activity until the student receives written authorization for such participation from a physician.

If a student, suffers a concussion as diagnosed by a medical professional, while participating in an extracurricular athletic activity the student may not participate in any extracurricular athletic activity until the student receives written authorization for such participation from a physician.

The superintendent of the school district or the director of a school shall maintain complete and accurate records of the district’s or school’s compliance with the requirements of this section.  A school that is determined by the school’s superintendent or director to be out of compliance with this section shall be subject to penalties as determined by the department.

This section does not waive any liability or immunity of a school district or its officers or employees. This section does not create any liability for a course of legal action against a school district, or its officers or employees.

A person who volunteers to assist with an extracurricular athletic activity is not liable for civil damages arising out of an act or omission relating to the requirements of this section, unless the act or omission is willfully or wanton negligent.

The departments shall promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of section 223 of chapter 111 of the General Laws within 90 days of the effective date of this act; provided that these regulations shall become effective for the fiscal year following final approval of said regulations; provided, however, that not less than 12 months shall have elapsed between final approval of the regulations and the date of implementation in order to provide sufficient time to implement the regulations.

 

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447