In July of 2012, Indiana joined what was then a rising tide of states to implement a “concussion” law. Since then, the count of states with such legislation has risen to 50.
In January of last year, I wrote that the Indiana law had “more than one flaw.”
Two laws, passed earlier this year, and signed by Governor Pence in the last week of March, seek to remedy the flaws but they do much more.
As a result, youth leagues, public and private schools at all levels, and even colleges have a lot of work to do to become compliant with one law by July 1 of this year and by July 1 of next year for the other, which deals largely with sudden cardiac arrest.
Senate Bill 222 is set to take effect this year and was authored by Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle). He also wrote the original law. The old law applied to high school interscholastic and intramural athletes. The new version encompasses any athletes involved in “a recreational; an intramural; or an extracurricular athletic or sports program … who are less than 20 years of age and (use) a facility, field, park or other property that is owned, leased, operated or maintained by (any government agency.)”
The new age provision was added so no high school athletes would be missed. However, whether intended or not, it also catches many college athletes. The law may not apply to a private university, such as Notre Dame, having its own facilities. However, since the Irish are hosting Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this year, at least their football team will have to join the Boilermakers in observing the law.
As before, any athlete suspected of having a concussion must be removed from participation and may not return until “evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussion … and receives a written clearance to return to play from the health care provider who evaluated the student athlete.”
However, that return is now possible only if at least “24 hours have passed since the student athlete was removed from play.” This change brings Indiana’s law in line with Washington’s law, which was the first in the country in 2009.
Instruction of parents and players must continue annually. Education of all coaches was also required in the old law but how often and how measured was not spelled out. For football coaches, though, the new requirements are very specific.
They read, “Beginning July 1, 2014, prior to coaching football to individuals who are less than twenty (20) years of age, each head football coach and assistant football coach shall complete a certified coaching education course … including content on:
concussion awareness; equipment fitting; heat emergency preparedness; and proper technique; requires a coach to complete a test demonstrating comprehension of the content of the course; and awards a certificate of completion to a coach who successfully completes the course….
“The course must have been approved by the (Indiana Department of Education). A coach shall complete a course not less than once during a two (2) year period.”
Expect the IDOE to have approved courses listed by June 1. Next week, the second law.
John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.