With the hot topic of concussion guidelines in youth sports continuing to spread like wildfire, our friendly neighbors to the north are “upping the ante” in their commitment to the health and safety of young athletes. Early last month, the federal government released the “Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport” – designed by advocacy group Parachute Canada in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada – which provides best practices for athletes, parents, coaches, teachers, trainers and healthcare professionals regarding the proper management of concussions. The full report covers everything from the importance of preseason education to the relevant procedures for seeking medical attention all the way to the official steps of Return-to-Play protocol, which bears a STRIKING resemblance to the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) concussion guidelines here in the United States (see side-by-side comparison below):
Canada has certainly lagged behind the United States in generating organizational and legal support for setting consistent standards around youth player safety management – the Advisory Committee on Concussions, created by Parachute Canada, is still less than one year old after being formed in October 2016. Just eight months later, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada to establish concussion-specific legislation when it passed the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee Act.
For comparison, the state of Washington passed the“Zackery Lystedt Law” back in 2009, making Washington the first state to enact legislation requiring removal and clearance for Return-to-Play protocol in the U.S. By 2012, 42 of 50 states had passed similar legislation and today all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, have laws in place with language requiring the education of coaches, parents, and athletes, removal of athletes from play following concussions and Return-to-Play protocol.
So despite being a bit late to the party, this is no doubt a major step for Canada in the journey towards institutionalizing and enforcing Return-to-Play protocol on a national scale – but there is still plenty of work left to be done, as Morgan Martin, a lawyer at Toronto-based law firm Dolden Wallace Folick LLP, explains. He believes one of the critical next steps is for youth sports leagues is to mandate documentation for all injuries in order to build a historical log for all players – precisely where Players Health comes into the equation…