New Law To Protect Children From Effects of Concussions - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

New Law To Protect Children From Effects of Concussions


It took five years following the death of a 17-year-old rugby player before the passage of legislation aimed at protecting children participating in sports from the risks associated with concussions. The passage by Ontario of legislation establishing safety protocols to protect children and teens from the effects of concussions marks the first legislation of its kind in the country. The law provides protocols coaches, parents and others involved in youth sports must follow to protect children from returning to activities before they have completely healed.

The risk of concussions

People might mistakenly think of the cause of a concussion only in terms of a blow to the head. In fact, a blow to the body that is forceful enough to jar the brain and cause it to move within the skull can also cause a person to suffer a concussion.

The injury to the brain can cause several symptoms, including the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Concentration or memory impairment
  • Mood changes, including depression, irritability and anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep

Some injuries to the brain can be severe enough to cause momentary or prolonged loss of consciousness.

One study found that 39 percent of children between 10-18 years of age taken to emergency departments after a head injury during a sports event were diagnosed by doctors as having suffered a concussion. An additional 24 percent of those children had what doctors described as possible concussions.

Long-term consequences of concussions

Allowing the brain to heal itself following a concussion takes time and requires rest. Another concussion before the brain has had a chance to fully recover from the first can increase the length of time it takes for symptoms to go away. In some instances of repetitive concussions, the symptom, including depression, memory loss and light sensitivity can become long-term consequences of the injury.

Doctors have identified a number of medical and psychological disorders in individuals who suffer repeat concussions, including:

  • Extreme muscle stiffness
  • Personality disorders
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy

CTE has been diagnosed in professional athletes who committed suicide following repetitive concussions. CTE can only be diagnosed by an examination of the brain during an autopsy following the person’s death.

How Ontario law addresses concussion issue

The enactment of Rowan’s Law by the Ontario legislature creates guidelines or protocols for coaches, educators, medical personnel and parents to follow for the removal of a player from a sports activity following a suspected concussion. It also establishes protocols to be used to determine when a child may safely return to normal activities.

The purpose of the law is to increase awareness of the dangers of concussions and the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment. It is based, in part, on the realization that players frequently do not recognize the seriousness of an injury to know to seek medical attention, or they may be reluctant to report it to a coach or parent for fear of being sidelined. Rowan’s Law includes a code of conduct to create rules for each sport to reduce the types of injuries causing concussions.

What can parents do to protect their children?

Parents should ensure their children wear protective equipment as required for each type of sports activity. For example, hockey players should wear properly fitted helmets to protect their heads during play. They should also discuss the seriousness of head injuries with their children and encourage them to report an injury to a coach or adult supervisor immediately

Ontario personal injury lawyers can help

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation for individuals suffering injuries in accidents caused by the negligence of other parties. If your child has been injured in a sports-related incident, you could have a claim for compensation. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit their website to speak to someone now. They offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario.

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