At its July 24 board meeting, the Maryland State Board of Education adopted emergency regulations related to identifying and responding to head injuries and concussions in extracurricular athletic events, according to the minutes from the meeting published by the Maryland State Department of Education.
The board took this action in response to a citizen petition, and the regulations essentially make official for the new school year major guidelines released by the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletics Association in 2011.
The emergency regulations require each local school system to train each coach in concussion risk and management, including criteria for removal and return to play and recognition of concussion symptoms. In addition, each school system is required to implement policies that make certain athletes and their parents or guardians receive information about the nature and risk of brain injuries. Finally, athletes will be required to receive medical observation and not return to play until cleared by a certified medical practitioner.
According to a press release, board members wanted regulations in place for the start of the 2012-13 school year, and these emergency regulations will be in effect for 180 days, giving board members time to work with healthcare and athletics experts to draft permanent regulations regarding brain injuries.
Almost every state in the country has some form of concussion law on the books. SB 771 was signed into law by Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley on May 19, 2011. Although the map on this news item on safekids.org is out of date, states that have concussion laws on the books are listed below the map. A few big states don’t have concussion laws yet, however, including New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, and Michigan. Let’s get with the program, America!
You can read a statement one Maryland parent made to the board at its June 25 meeting. In the statement, the parent asks the board to adopt regulations similar to those approved by the Massachusetts Department of Health. He also asks the board to prohibit two-a-days, which are workouts conducted twice in the same 8-hour day, usually involving heavy contact, for football players.
An international consensus statement on concussions was adopted at the Third International Conference on Concussion in Sport, held in Zurich, Switzerland, in November 2008: “It is not appropriate for a child or adolescent athlete with concussion to [return to play] on the same day as the injury regardless of the level of athletic performance” (quoted by McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, et al. “Consensus Statement on Concussion”). According to NFL Health and Safety.com, 37 states and the District of Columbia had concussion laws on the books as of May 2012.