Ontario Has Passed Ground-Breaking Legislation to Protect Amateur Athletes.
Ontario passed concussion safety legislation in March of 2018 (Rowan’s Law) to protect amateur athletes and make sport safer on the field or gym floor and at school.
Rowan’s Law (Concussion Safety), 2017 makes Ontario a national leader in concussion management and prevention by establishing mandatory requirements that call for:
- Annual review of concussion awareness resources that prevents, identifies and manages concussions that coaches and educators would be required to review before registering in a sport
- Removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols, to ensure that an athlete is immediately removed from sport if they are suspected of having sustained a concussion, giving them the time needed to heal properly
- A concussion code of conduct that would set out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions while playing sport
In honour of Rowan Stringer, the 17-year-old rugby player whose death resulted from sustaining multiple concussions, the proposed legislation also establishes the last Wednesday in September as “Rowan’s Law Day”.
Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass concussion safety legislation, setting a precedent for sport legislation across the country. The province worked closely with key medical experts, researchers and sport leaders — most notably the members of the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee — in establishing this first-of-its-kind legislation.
Making amateur sport safer is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
“With this legislation now in place, amateur athletes in Ontario – and the coaches and families that support them – will have the safe sport system that they want and deserve. Through increasing awareness, and changing conversations on the field, at school and in our homes, Ontario is creating a world class amateur sport system where athletes and Ontarians can participate safely.”
— Daiene Vernile, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
“I want to express my gratitude to the legislature for establishing Rowan’s Law. Rowan’s Law is the direct result of recommendations of the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee, who contributed their time, expertise and passion to develop thoughtful solutions to a significant health concern that has been unaddressed for far too long. I believe that Rowan’s Law will become the “gold standard” for concussion legislation in Canada, because of the incredible work of the members of the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee. I look forward to seeing Rowan’s Law implemented in the months to come, as well as the other key recommendations of the Advisory Committee. In the memory of our daughter Rowan, I thank all who were involved in bringing us to this day, and to those who will continue the important work of promoting concussion awareness.”
— Gordon Stringer, Rowan’s father
“This important legislation will create a safer environment for young athletes to participate in the sports of their choosing. Now, athletes and their coaches and families are going to benefit from increased awareness and knowledge of how to immediately assess and manage any form of head injury during a sports game. This will keep our young athletes healthy and beneficially engaged in sports.”
— Helena Jaczek, Minister of Health and Long Term Care
“I applaud the passing of this legislation. The safety of our students is one of our top priorities. This important legislation will provide the necessary supports for our students and the entire school community.”
— Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of Education
As recommended by Think First Canada, there is a six (6) step process
to evaluate readiness before an athlete can return to play. The steps are as follows:
Step 1: No activity, only complete rest. Limit school, work and tasks requiring concentration. Refrain from physical activity until symptoms are gone. Once symptoms are gone, a physician, preferably one with experience managing concussions, should be consulted before beginning a step wise return to play process.
Step 2: Light aerobic exercise. Activities such as walking or stationary cycling. The player should be supervised by someone who can help monitor for symptoms and signs. No resistance training or weight lifting. The duration and intensity of the aerobic exercise can be gradually increased over time if no symptoms or signs return during the exercise or the next day. Symptoms? Return to rest until symptoms have resolved. If symptoms persist, consult a physician. No symptoms?
Proceed to Step 3 the next day.
Step 3: Sport specific activities. Activities such as stationary passing, dribbling or shooting can begin at step 3. There should be no body contact or other jarring motions such as high speed stops. Symptoms? Return to rest until symptoms have resolved. If symptoms persist, consult a physician. No symptoms?
Proceed to Step 4 the next day.
Step 4: Begin drills without body contact. Symptoms? Return to rest until symptoms have resolved. If symptoms persist, consult a physician. No symptoms? The time needed to progress from non-contact exercise will vary with the severity of the concussion and with the player.
Proceed to Step 5 only after medical clearance.
Step 5: Begin drills with body contact. Symptoms? Return to rest until symptoms have resolved. If symptoms persist, consult a physician. No symptoms?
Proceed to Step 6 the next day.
Step 6: Possible Symptoms (as per Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 – SCAT2) Presence of any of the following signs and symptoms may suggest a concussion:
Loss of consciousness
Seizure or convulsion
“Pressure in head”
Nausea or vomiting
Sensitivity to light
Sensitivity to noise
Feeling slowed down
Feeling like “in a fog“
“Don’t feel right”
Fatigue or low energy
Nervous or anxious