Rowan’s Law a fitting tribute
Rowan’s Law is an important piece of legislation to help deal with concussions in sports such as football.
This past Sept. 26, school across Ontario commemorated the first-ever Rowan’s Law Day in memory of Rowan Stringer.
The 17-year-old rugby player died from second impact syndrome after multiple concussions. On March 7, Ontario passed Rowan’s Law. It created removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols for athletes to guarantee they are taken out of a game if a concussion is suspected. Coaches and teachers are required to review on-line resources that help them identify and manage concussions in players. The bill also included a code of conduct, setting out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions in sports. Ontario was the first province in Canada to enact a concussion law.
Dr. Julie Kruis, of Brock Pro Health, which provides complete concussion care, is delighted with the new legislation.
“Rowan’s Law has been put in place to help protect our children,” she said. “It brings awareness to the community and organizations and will hold people accountable for their decisions as to how an athlete is managed when an injury occurs.”
Kruis feels the best part of the new legislation is that it’s creating the education, awareness and knowledge about concussions and proper management.
“It’s about changing the culture of sport so that kids with a suspected or potential concussion will come forward and report it to their coaches, parents and teammates,” she said. “Through the school systems, they are talking more about concussions with the children so they become more comfortable with concussions and kids are being encouraged to speak up when something isn’t right.
“We all have a role to play in preventing and managing these injuries.”
Kruis believes the only thing missing in the legislation is a consensus amongst practitioners on how concussions should be managed.
“The management should be multidisciplinary and there needs to be increased communication between the parents, coaches, schools, family physicians and other healthcare provides trained in concussion management,” she said.
There are tools in place to help with that communication. The Complete Concussion Management Network can now provide a free Concussion Track App, which allows rapid communication between the doctors, therapists, parents and coaches and the schools.
This app is used for symptom reporting, school accommodations, and return to play stages so everyone is on the same page.
“With that said, Rowan’s Law is still being developed and it demonstrates how serious concussions are and how important it is that we get it right,” Kruis said.
When patients with concussions come to Brock Pro Health, they are they are immediately registered with the Complete Concussion Management Inc. database, which is part of a secure electronic medical record system for complete privacy. Coaches, teachers, parents and other healthcare providers can now follow the athlete through the concussion tracker app by the. The athlete and parents are provided with appropriate reassurance and information about what to expect in the following days. Each patient is shown how to report their daily symptoms on the app. The recovery stages of concussion are followed and proper return to learn and return to play guidelines are put into place.
Kruis stresses that not every bump on the head suffered at home or at sports by a child is a concussion, Parents and coaches need to look for red flags such as a worsening headache, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, balance issues, seizures, slurred speech, fainting, loss of consciousness.
“If you detect any of these, seek medical attention right away,” she said.
Other signs and symptoms can include not feeling right or in a fog, fatigue, more emotional (irritable or sad), sensitivity to light or noise and difficulty sleeping.
“If you notice any one of these signs and symptoms, then there is a suspected concussion and parents should follow up with their family practitioner or a registered healthcare provider trained in concussion management before returning your child to school or sports”
Kruis urges people to follow a common and useful slogan — ‘When in doubt sit, them out.’
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