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Youth Sports Concussion Safety Laws: Iowa

On April 7, 2011, Iowa governor Terry Brandstat signed the state's youth sports concussion safety law into law.  It will take effect July 1, 2011.

Key provisions of the Iowa law, the thirteenth of its kind passed by states since Washington State's historic Zackery Lystedt law in May 2009 (a number which has since swelled to 31 plus the District of Columbia) are as follows:

Broad coverage

  • The law covers athletes in both public and private schools in grades 7 through 12.  (The law is the second in the country to extend coverage to athletes below middle school, after Colorado).
  • The law covers extracurricular interscholastic activity, contest, or practice, including sports, dance, and cheerleading.

Education

The Iowa high school athletic association and the Iowa girls high school athletic union are required to work together to distribute guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources to inform and educate coaches, students, and parents and guardians of students to the risks, signs and symptoms and behaviors consistent with concussion or brain injury, the danger of continuing to play after sustaining a concussion, and their responsibility to report such signs, symptoms, and behaviors if they occur.

Written parental consent 

Each school district and private school must provide a concussion and brain injury information sheet to a student's parent or guardian on an annual basis, which both the student and his parent or guardian must sign and return to the school prior to the student's participation in any extracurricular interscholastic activity.

Removal from and return to play

  • Students observed by coaches or contest officials to have signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with concussion must be immediately removed from the game, competition, or practice [Note: the Iowa law is one of only two states (Arizona is the other) to empower officials to remove a player];
  • Once removed, a student may not recommence participation until after being evaluated by and receives written clearance from a licensed health care provider with training in the evaluation and management of concussions. [This could conceivably allow same day return to play].

Firewall

Sen. Tod Bowmann (D-Maquoketa), the law's sponsor, told the Des Moines Register that the law would act as a "firewall" between any win-at-all-costs coaches, parents, or players and potentially fatal brain injuries.

While the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union adopted protocols in the fall of 2010 for concussions similar to those in the new law, the statute now requires medical clearance before he or she can return to participation. 

Looking for more concussion information? For the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on concussions for sports parents, click here.


Posted April 21, 2011; revised January 2, 2012

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