What parents need to know about Wisconsin’s concussion law and youth athletics

Welcome to 2013! If your kids participate in sports this year, you should know that Wisconsin’s concussion law requires all youth athletic organizations, from recreational leagues to clubs or school sports, to educate coaches, athletes and parents about concussions. Everyone should be aware of the signs and effects of concussion, because education is a key part of ensuring kids get the best care.

I worked with colleagues on the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to help Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction develop concussion fact sheets for athletes and parents.

The legislation prevents kids from participating in an activity until they, and their parents or guardians, have returned a signed agreement sheet indicating they have reviewed the concussion and head injury informational materials.

If a young athlete shows signs or symptoms of a concussion, the law requires that he or she immediately be removed from an athletic activity. The athlete may not participate again until he or she is evaluated by a health care provider and receives written clearance from that provider to return to the activity.

When it comes to concussion and kids, remember this: When in doubt, hold them out. If the athlete has a concussion, he or she should not return to play that day or while still having symptoms.

Kevin Walter, MD- Kevin Walter, MD, pediatric sports medicine specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Dr. Walter is the program director of Pediatric and Adolescent Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and assistant professor of Orthopedics at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Comments

What parents need to know about Wisconsin’s concussion law and youth athletics — 4 Comments

  1. Dr Walter,
    I am not sure when/how I heard this but I thought it was recent . I thought Wisconsin had passed a law recently that if an athlete suffers from 3 head injuries in a year they were automatically held from returning to competition. Is this true or did I imagine it?

  2. That is a common misconception/rumor. The Wisconsin concussion law does not specify any numbers, nor does the WIAA. This is because concussion is such a unqiue injury, that management and return to play decisions need to be individualized. However, most providers would likely require a young athlete with three concussions in one year to have a significant period of time away from contact and high risk sports.

  3. Thank you. Could you be more specific, if possible, what the definition of ” significant period of time” is? A year sx free? I know it might be hard to give specifics but lets say this is regarding a freshman or sophomore HS athlete. Would significant amount of time mean no more contact in their HS career?

  4. Unfortunately, it is impossible to give you an accurate response to your question. Concussion care is so individualized (every injury is unique) that 6 months, 12 months, and permanent retirement from high-risk & contact sports may all be the answer. Coming to that answer depends on multiple issues, including but not limited to: mechanism of injury, duration of symptoms, and amount of dysfunction. In my opinion, your question is an instance where making decisions with a physician and neuropsychologist with experience in concussion care would be most helpful.