California Concussion Laws

Concussion Laws

May 7, 2010

On May 7, 2010, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) passed Bylaw 313 which required a student-athlete who was suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in a practice or game to be removed from competition at that time for the remainder of the day. The student-athlete could not return to play until evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in education and management of concussion. The student-athlete must also receive a written clearance from that health care provider.[1]

October 4, 2011

On October 4, 2011, California Assembly Bill 25 (AB25‐Hayashi) was signed into law which became effective on January 1, 2012. This bill mirrored the CIF wording and broadened it to include all student athletes, not just those from the 9th-12th grade.

A summary of this bill is as follows:

SUMMARY: Requires a school district that elects to offer athletics, to implement a concussion and head injury identification process; and, requires compliance with this process from all organizations the district authorizes to use school facilities under the Civic Center Act (CCA).

(1) An athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in an athletic activity shall be immediately removed from the activity for the remainder of the day, and shall not be permitted to return to the activity until he or she is evaluated by a licensed health care provider, trained in the management of concussions, acting within the scope of his or her practice. The athlete shall not be permitted to return to the activity until he or she receives written clearance to return to the activity from that licensed health care provider.

(2) On a yearly basis, a concussion and head injury information sheet shall be signed and returned by the athlete and the athlete’s parent or guardian before the athlete’s initiating practice or competition.[2]

August 17, 2012

On August 17, 2012, the governor signed into law an amendment to AB1451 which “adds new requirements to the California High School Coaching Education and Training Program (HSCTP) for training on understanding the signs and symptoms of concussions and the appropriate response to concussions” [3]

Effective January 1, 2013, the bill will require an additional training for high school sports coaches on understanding the signs and symptoms of concussions and the appropriate response to concussions. Coaches will be required to receive updated concussion training every two years as well. In the previous legislation, there was no formal language regarding concussion training programs. The CIF currently offers a free online concussion training course for coaches, but only 5,323 of the 67,929 coaches in California have taken the online course.3

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, the sponsor of the current amendment, stated “I would like to thank the Governor for signing this bill and taking California another step forward in protecting the health of our student athletes…Because kids still believe they need to be tough and play through injuries, it’s critical that coaches have the training to recognize concussions and take players out of the game as soon as possible.” [4]

According to the author, “What may appear to be a minor blow to the head can have serious, even fatal, consequences. Emerging studies indicate that high school athletes are at risk of suffering from sleep disorders, memory loss, mental fatigue, depression or even suicide as a result of head injuries sustained in sports. While not all head injuries can be prevented, the effects can be mitigated by knowing when it is safe to return to play. Currently, the only mandatory injury-related training for high school coaches in California is certification in CPR and first aid. This bill incorporates concussion-related training into these existing requirements.”

The official language of the amendment is as follows:

“(6) Training: certification in CPR and first aid. aid, including, but not limited to, a basic understanding of the signs and symptoms of concussions and the appropriate response to concussions. Concussion training may be fulfilled through entities offering free, online, or other types of training courses.” [5]

Concussion Rates [6]

According to a nationwide study published in the Journal of Athletic Training, football has the highest rate of concussions in high school sports with 47 concussions occurring per 100,000 player games or practices. Girl’s soccer has the second highest rate of concussions in high school sports with 36 concussions occurring per 100,000 player games or practices. Boys soccer and girls basketball have the third and fourth highest rate of concussions in high school sports with 22 and 21 concussions per 100,000 player games or practices, respectively. In the sport of football alone, since 1997, at least 50 high school or younger athletes have been killed or sustained serious head injuries on the field.

Even more troubling, studies show as many as 20% of all high school football players sustain concussions annually.

A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first—usually within a short period of time can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage, and even death. According to the CDC, this condition is called second impact syndrome (SIS). The American College of Sports Medicine estimated last year that 85% of all concussions among high school athletes go undiagnosed, meaning many high school athletes are exposing themselves to the risk of SIS.

Concussion Resources

Online Course with information: http://www.preventingconcussions.org/

Concussion information from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/high_school.html

Concussion information from the CIF: http://www.cifstate.org/index.php/the-latest-news/concussions

Online Course with information: http://nfhslearn.com/electiveDetail.aspx?courseID=15000

Youth Concussions FAQ from the NFL: http://www.nflevolution.com/article/Youth-Concussions-FAQ?ref=936

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