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Youth Sports Concussion Safety Laws: California

California's youth sports concussion safety law has evolved in stages over time: 

  • On October 4, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state's youth sports concussion safety law (AB 25), adding the state to growing list that have enacted a strong concussion safety law since May 2009.*
  • In August 2012, California strengthened the law by adding training on concussions to the first aid certification required of all California high school coaches. 
  • Most recently, on July 21, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law an amended youth sports concussion safety law (AB 2127)  strengthening the law in several key areas.

Key provisions

The law, as amended, now contains these key provisions: 

  • Broad coverage: The law, as amended, covers all athletes participating in school-sponsored athletics and, as part of an increasing trend among the states (with Virginia being the latest), private organizations which use public school facilities for youth sports, along with charter schools and private schools.
  • Education: In order to participate in athletics, students and a parent or guardian must sign and return to the student's school each year a form acknowledging receipt and review of a concussion and traumatic brain injury information sheet.
  • Limits on full-contact practices.  In response to the growing concern about the long-term effect of repetitive head impacts in football, limits the number of full-contact practices during the pre-season and regular season to two 90-minute sessions per week, while banning off-season contact practices altogether.
  • Immediate removal from play in case of suspected concussion: Athletes suspected of having sustained a concussion must be immediately removed from play for the remainder of the day.
  • Mandated graduated return-to-play protocol.  If a licensed health care provider determines that an athlete sustained a concussion or a head injury, the athlete must complete a graduated return-to-play protocol of no less than seven days in duration under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.  The law urges the California Interscholastic Federation to work in consultation with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (both of which have issued guidelines for management of sport-related concussions [1,2]) to develop and adopt rules and protocols to implement this requirement. The state thus joins New Mexico as the only two states mandating a 7-day minimum waiting period before return to play, but is believed to be the first state to go further in specifically mandating compliance with the graduated, symptom-limited, return to play protocol that has been recommended by an international consensus of concussion experts since as early as the 2nd international conference in Prague in 2004. [Note: New Jersey's state Board of Education has adopted a model policy that calls for student-athletes, once asymptomatic, to follow the return to play protocol, and, if it is not followed, to wait a minimum of 7 days before return to play. It is even more conservative for younger student-athletes (K-8), requiring that they wait 7 days before even beginning the return to play protocol. The Board of Education, however, leaves it to local school boards to implement its own policy, presumably with reference to the model policy.]
  • No return to play without written medical clearance: Athletes who have been removed may not return to play until evaluated and received written clearance from a licensed health care provider trained in the management of concussion acting within the scope of his or her practice. 
  • No change in immunity: Existing law on civil liability on the part of any school or employee is left unchanged.

 


Posted October 5, 2011; most recently revised October 23, 2014

1. Halstead, ME, Walter, K. "Clinical Report - Sport-Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents"  Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):597-615 (http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;126/3/5...).

2.  Harmon K, et al. American Medical Society for Sports Medicine position statement: concussion in sport. Br J Sports Med. 2013;47:15-26.

 

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