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New California Concussion Laws for 2017

A new concussion law in California was enacted on January 1st, 2017. It is an amendment of a previous law that covered high school athletes that now covers all athletes under the age of 18. Its’ purpose is to provide specific safety protocols in order to protect athletes from injury. “This bill places California at the forefront of improving concussion management at the youth sports level” said Mike Chisar of the California Athletic Trainers’ Association. “It will help ensure the appropriate steps are taken so our coaches, parents and athletes are educated on the signs and symptoms of concussion, and help minimize the risk of serious injury.”

The new law aims at making sports safer by using education and preparation in regards to the signs and symptoms of concussion as well as proper management and return to play protocols. The bill states that educational material must be provided to all athletes, coaches and parents on a yearly basis. This material must include: head injuries and their potential consequences, signs and symptoms of a concussion, best practices for removing an athlete after a suspected head injury, and steps for returning an athlete to school and athletic activity after a suspected concussion.

Currently in California, an athlete suspected of having a concussion, must be removed from play for the rest of the day or until evaluated by a licensed health care provider. The athlete may not return to athletic activity until they receive written clearance by a licensed health care provider. If an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion, he or she must go through a graduated return to play protocol of no less than seven days under the supervision of a licensed health care provider. This is not a new to many Athletic Trainers and Physicians, but may seem new to the general public. The gradual return is a step by step process to ensure a safe return and starts with light aerobic exercise progressing through sport specific exercises under the guidance of qualified personnel. For more information on the law, search Assembly Bill 2007.

Chris Phillips is an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 20 years experience in professional sports. Chris has worked in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Washington Capitals and was also the Head Athletic Trainer for the 2002 USA Hockey Men's National Team. He is the founder of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Southern California. Chris can be reached at chris@competeperformance.com.