Ontario passes Rowan’s Law concussion prevention legislation

On March 6, coaches, parents, safety advocates and brain injury lawyers celebrated as Ontario passed Rowan’s Law, a piece of legislation designed to protect young athletes from the dangers of concussion. The bill was named in memory of Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old Ottawa girl who passed away in May 2013 after suffering multiple head injuries playing high school rugby.

“With this legislation in place, amateur athletes in Ontario – and the coaches and families that support them – will have the safe sport system that they want and deserve,” said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Daiene Vernile in a provincial release. “Through increasing awareness, and changing conversations on the field, at school and in our homes, Ontario is creating a world class amateur sport system where athletes and Ontarians can participate safely.”

The new law calls for an annual review of concussion awareness resources available to coaches and educators; a strict removal-from-sport and return-to-sport procedure to ensure athletes who have suffered a blow to the head have the time to heal and recover; and a code of conduct for athletes to minimize the number of concussions that occur in youth sports.

Rowan’s Law is the first bill of its kind in Canada. The province worked together with medical experts, researchers, and representatives from the sports world to establish precedent-setting legislation that has earned the approval of most doctors and brain injury lawyers. For concussion experts and advocates, encouraging other provinces to follow Ontario’s lead will be the next challenge.

“The heavy lifting has been done here in Ontario,” said Gordon Stringer, Rowan’s father, according to the CBC. “But this is not something that’s an Ontario issue. This is something that needs to be addressed across Canada.’

Concussions are extremely common in youth sports. According to the province, 22 per cent of students admitted to losing consciousness of being admitted to the hospital with a head injury during their lifetime. Nationwide, 39 per cent of children and youth who visit emergency rooms with head injuries are diagnosed with concussions.

“Ontario not only has demonstrated its commitment to protecting our young people playing sport, but also set a new standard for concussion prevention and management for Canada,” said Dr. Dan Cass, Chief Medical Executive at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “I believe that Rowan’s Law will change the culture of amateur sport, where everyone can participate safely and speak up if they or a teammate might have a concussion.”

If you or a member of your family has suffered a head injury, contact the brain injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today. We can help you understand your legal options and guide you on your path to recovery.

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