Rowan's Law - Protecting and Educating Amateur Athletes about Concussion and Brain Injury

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Rowan’s Law was enacted in 2018 as a result of the death of Ottawa high school student Roan Stringer. Rowan died at the age of 17 after suffering several concussions playing sports. The final concussion occurred in a rugby game. The legislation is meant to protect amateur athletes and to educate the players and coaches in amateur sport about he dangers of head injury. It was passed with all party support.

It is important to remember that in children and young adults concussion is serious. Anyone who suffers one brain injury is more susceptible to subsequent injury and will often have more serious symptoms which take longer to heal. At a certain point brain damage may become permanent.  Brian injury is also thought to increase the incidence of cognitive diseases later in life.

The provincial government has published a comprehensive education page to accompany the legislation entitled Rowan’s Law: Concussion Awareness Resources. It goes on to detail the conditions that may result from head injury and what parents, coaches or by standers should do in the event of one.

It is important to remember that symptoms of head injury may be immediate, or they may take hours, or days, or even weeks to develop especially in children and the elderly. Any head injury that results in unconsciousness or seizure and should be considered as an emergency. Call 911 and the person should be transported immediately to the hospital for care, treatment and observation.

Even if a person has not passed out or had a seizure there are certain “RED FLAG” symptoms that indicate a person has serious injury and should seek emergency care immediately. These RED FLAGS include:

  • Neck pain or tenderness
  • Double vision
  • Weakness or tingling in arms and legs
  • Severe or increasing headaches
  • Seizures or convulsions          
  • subsequent passing out (loss of consciousness)
  • Vomiting more than once
  • Increasing aggression, agitation or restlessness
  • Confusion

If any of these symptoms are present call 911. The following is an excerpt directly from the webpage. You can read the whole site for complete information on where to find resources on recognition of head injury, and your obligations as players, parents and coaches on handling them.

Recognize symptoms of a concussion

Everyone can help recognize a possible concussion if they know what to look for.

A person with a concussion might have any of the signs or symptoms listed below. They might show up right away or hours, or even days later. Just one sign or symptom is enough to suspect a concussion. Most people with a concussion do not lose consciousness.

Common signs and symptoms

Physical

  • Headache
  • Pressure in the head
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Balance problems
  • Tired or low energy
  • Drowsiness
  • “Don’t feel right”

Sleep-related

  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Having a hard time falling asleep

Cognitive (Thinking)

  • Not thinking clearly
  • Slower thinking
  • Feeling confused
  • Problems concentrating
  • Problems remembering

Emotional

  • Irritability (easily upset or angered)
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Nervous or anxious
     

What to do if you suspect a concussion

Follow these three steps if you — or someone you know — experiences a blow to the head, face, neck or body and you suspect a concussion. Call 911 if you are concerned the injury is life-threatening, such as the person is unconscious or they had a seizure.

  • Recognize signs and symptoms of a concussion and remove yourself or the athlete from the sport/physical activity, even if you feel OK or they insist they are OK.
  • Get yourself or the athlete checked out by a physician or nurse practitioner.
  • Support gradual return to school and sport.

These resources are not intended to provide medical advice relating to health care. For advice on health care for concussion symptoms, please consult with a physician or nurse practitioner.