Michigan Follows National Trend, Passes New Sports Concussion Law

Michigan has become the 39th state to pass a sports concussion law which went into effect on June 30, 2013. The new Michigan law applies to school athletic committees, which include organized practices or competitions and also physical education classes that are part of any academic curriculum.

Pursuant to the new law, before a student athlete may participate in athletic activities sponsored or operated by the school, the school must first insure that coaches, employees and volunteers and other adults who are involved in the participation of athletes in the athletic activities participate in a concussion awareness training program through the Michigan Department of Community Health. That training will discuss the nature and risk of concussions, criteria for the removal of an athlete from participation in an athletic activity due to a concussion, and the risk to an athlete of not reporting a suspected concussion. The law mandates that any organization that offers organized youth athletics to provide educational materials to athletes and their parents regarding concussion awareness. Parents (and in some cases players) must sign a statement saying they received these educational materials.

As it relates to the direct issue of addressing concussions, the law mandates that a coach (or one in an equivalent role) shall immediately remove from physical participation any student athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion during the athletic activity. The student athlete cannot return to the physical activity until he or she has been evaluated by a health professional and receives written clearance from that professional authorizing the student athlete to return to physical participation.

The Michigan House and Senate passed the measures last year with little opposition, and medical and health organizations who testified before legislative committees were nearly unanimous in their support of the bills. Like in other states, the measures in Michigan stem from concerns that parents, coaches and students need to know more about signs and symptoms of a concussion in light of recent discussions about the physical impact that concussions can have on athletes. That concern is heightened in occurrences when the concussion has gone undiagnosed and the student-athlete has returned to the playing field without adequate medical screening.

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