On June 28, 2011, Governor Bobby Jindal signed S.B. 189 into law, adding Louisiana to the growing list of states (thirty-one plus the District of Columbia as of January 2, 2012) that have enacted strong youth sports concussion safety laws.
Like the other jurisdictions that have put into place laws intended to improve concussion safety in youth and high school sports, the Louisiana law includes the three components of the model law endorsed by the National Football League and backed by a consortium of groups, including MomsTeam:
- Informing and educating youth athletes, their parents and guardians and requiring them to sign a concussion information form;
- Requiring removal of a youth athlete who appears to have suffered a concussion from play or practice at the time of the suspected concussion; and
- Prohibiting a youth athlete from returning to play or practice unless cleared by a licensed health care professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions.
- Broad coverage: The new law covers
- All organized athletic activity where the majority of the participants are seven years of age or older and under nineteen in organized sports; and
- Private clubs, public and non-public elementary, middle, junior high, and high schools.
- Information about concussions, including the risk of continuing to play after a concussion (e.g. second impact, slower recovery, possible long-term cognitive impairment etc.) must be provided to all coaches, officials, volunteers, youth athletes, and their parents/guardians before the beginning of each sports season
- Each coach, including volunteer coaches, is required to complete an annual concussion recognition course that includes:
- how to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion;
- the need for obtaining proper medical attention for athletes suspected of having sustained a concussion;
- the nature and risk of concussions
- Youth athletes and their parents/guardians must sign a concussion and head injury information sheet as a condition of participation of the athlete in any athletic activities.
- Removal from play: The coach must immediately remove any youth athlete from a game, competition or practice if any of the following occurs:
- The athlete reports any sign or symptom of a concussion;
- The coach, athletic trainer, or official determines that the athlete exhibits any concussion signs or symptoms or suspects that the athlete may have sustained a concussion following an observed or suspected blow to the head or body [remember: an athlete can sustain a concussion even from a blow to the body if the force of the blow is transmitted to the head].
- The coach or official learns that the youth athlete has reported or exhibited any sign or symptom of concussion to:
- Return to play: If the athlete is removed from play and the signs or symptoms cannot be readily explained by a condition other than concussion, the coach must notify the athlete's parent or legal guardian and is prohibited from allowing the athlete to return to play until he or she has been evaluated by a health care provider for a full or graduated return to play.
- Follow-up: After an athlete has been allowed to return to play after a concussion, the club, school, recreational facility, league or organization may allow a licensed athletic trainer with specific knowledge of the athlete's condition to manage the athlete's graduated return to play.
- Immunity: The law does not create liability for or a cause of action when the requirements of the law have been met.
Revised September 1, 2011; revised January 2, 2012