Safety in Youth Sports Act becomes Law in Pennsylvania
Governor Corbett signed the Safety in Youth Sports Act into law which took effect on July 1, 2012. It does not pertain to private schools, but only to public schools. It covers all practices, scrimmages, and events within interscholastic athletics as well as other sports associated with a school entity.
This bill establishes standards for managing concussions to student athletes. In order to return to play the athlete must be cleared by a licensed psychologist trained in neuropsychology, by a physician who is trained in the evaluation and management of concussions, or by certain other health care providers under the supervision of the physician. The Pennsylvania Psychological Association’s advocacy was instrumental in this bill’s passage. The association’s past president, Dr. Mark Hogue stated, “This new law will be extremely important to any athlete who suffers a concussion. Athletes who return to play prematurely are at risk of a second concussion, which can be life-threatening.” Dr. Hogue is a clinical and sport psychologist from Erie.
The bill will require the state Departments of Health and Education to develop and post on their websites information on the nature of concussions in athletic activities and the risks associated with continuing to play or practice after a concussion. Student-athletes and their parents/guardians must sign an acknowledgement of receipt of an information sheet on concussions prior to participation in athletics. It will require coaches to complete a concussion management certification training course before coaching any athletic activity. During an athletic contest coaches will be required to remove athletes from competition if they exhibit signs of a concussion.
This is Pennsylvania State Law; therefore the following are non-negotiable.
1. Nature of Concussions and Risk
- The State law in Pennsylvania regarding concussions states that any athlete exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a concussion or a traumatic brain injury must be removed from the game or practice and must be evaluated by the appropriate medical professional before returning to play.
- A coach or parent may not return an athlete to play following a concussion, a written release from the above list of appropriate medical professional must be obtained
- Mandatory education is important for all athletes, parents and coaches regarding the signs and symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an excellent resource for Concussion in Sport and Injury Prevention and control. Information is available from the following sites:
2. Acknowledgement of Risk and Receipt of Concussion information
- The newly revised PIAA Comprehensive Initial Pre-participation Physical Evaluation Form (CIPPE) Section 3 contains the requirement that parents acknowledge the risk of concussion and traumatic brain injury in sport and sign accordingly.
3. Coaches Concussion Management Certification Required
- All coaches of interscholastic athletic teams, other coaches of sports associated with Upper St. Clair will be required to take the online certification course from the NFHS.
- Coaches need to complete the course between July 1st and August 1st directly prior to the school year they intend to coach.
- The certificate is valid for 1 year only and must be retaken for every subsequent year of coaching
- Coaches hired after August 1st deadline will be obligated to complete the course, and have it on file prior to the legal start date of that respective season.
- The NFHS online course, “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know.” It is a complimentary online course designed to familiarize those associated with interscholastic athletics on the signs, symptoms, and treatment related to concussion in sports. The only requirement is a quick and easy registration at www.nfhslearn.com
Take Home Handouts: