Seldom do youth sports have a huge influence on a piece of legislation. This year the legislature in Canada passed a bill, one that sought to address a problem that Ottawa rugby player Rowan Stringer had brought to the public’s attention. That bill is called Rowan’s Law (Concussion Safety), 2018.
Sadly, the bill’s creation did nothing to reverse the course of the injury suffered by him. He suffered a concussion while taking part in a sports activity. He failed to get medical attention and even kept playing. His head got hit again, and his brain began to swell. Doctors had no way to keep him from becoming a fatality.
Major rulings in new legislation
Anybody that is taking part in a sport where a concussion is possible must be provided with information on concussions. The list of participants must include more than players. It should include coaches and parents as well. Each of them needs to receive the information on concussions.
Any player with a possible concussion should be removed from the field. That same player must not be allowed to resume playing until after an investigative process has been completed. That process calls for a careful examination of the player’s injury.
The legislators responded to a tragedy and to findings from medical researchers
When a scientist first makes a discovery, that finding could get mentioned in a scientific journal, but it seldom becomes public knowledge in a short space of time. So, when medical researchers found that changes can take place in the brain weeks after a concussion, no one thought about informing members of the sports world. Hence, Rowan’s coach and parents did not watch carefully for any evidence of such changes.
The recent legislation reflects the fact that medical science needs to learn even more about concussions. What sorts of changes might take place in the head of someone that has suffered a concussion? Does the recent finding strengthen the concerns of neurologists? Some of them have patients that have taken part in sports activities. Some of them have symptoms that differ from Rowan’s.
For instance, some of them experience expansion of a space within the brain. That is called the ventricle. When that expands, the affected patient has trouble maintaining his or her balance and coordination. Could that be another change caused by a concussion?
At this point, no one knows for sure. Legislators do know that parents, coaches and family physicians need to stay up-to-date on any advances made by those researchers that have chosen to focus on the methods in use to diagnose and treat concussions. The researchers’ findings should be put to use as soon as possible, and the results shared with medical professionals.