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Concussions in Sport

A concussion is a common form of head or brain injury that causes changes in how the brain functions, leading to symptoms that can be physical, cognitive or emotional/behavioural.  A concussion can occur from a direct or indirect blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth within the skull.

Though concussions are common sport injuries, particularly among children and youth, there are sometimes subtle symptoms that may go unnoticed. Without identification and proper management, a concussion has the potential to result in permanent or severe brain damage.

Ontario takes the health and well-being of athletes seriously. Ontarians want to know that amateur athletes are protected by a safe sport system where everyone understands concussions, actively minimizes the risk of concussions, and knows what to do immediately if someone is concussed.

The government is improving concussion safety to create a world class amateur sport system where athletes can participate safely. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport has been working to increase awareness about concussions through:

  • a web portal with information on concussion prevention, identification, management and treatment
  • a Sport Recognition Policy that requires all recognized provincial and multi-sport organizations to have policies on concussion management and return-to-play.

Proposed Legislation

Ontario is introducing legislation that would, if passed, protect amateur athletes by improving concussion safety on the field and at school.

The proposed Rowan’s Law (Concussion Safety), 2017, would, if passed, make Ontario a national leader in concussion management and prevention by establishing mandatory requirements for:

  • Annual review of concussion awareness resources that help prevent, identify and manage concussions, which athletes, coaches, educators and parents would be required to review before registering in a sport
  • Removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols, to ensure that an athlete is immediately removed from sport if they are suspected of having sustained a concussion and giving them the time required to heal properly
  • A concussion code of conduct that would set out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions while playing sport.

In honour of Rowan Stringer, the 17-year-old rugby player whose death resulted from sustaining multiple concussions, the proposed legislation would also establish the last Wednesday in September as “Rowan’s Law Day”.

Ontario is inviting the public to comment on the proposed legislation until January 29, 2018.

See what people are saying about this legislation.

Rowan's Law Advisory Committee

The proposed legislation is part of the government’s response to the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee report on prevention and management of concussions in amateur sport released in September 2017.

Ontario established the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee to review the jury recommendations made as a result of the coroner’s inquest into the death of 17-year-old high school rugby player Rowan Stringer.

The Advisory Committee's report contains 21 recommended actions directed to all organized amateur sports, both school-based and non-school-based, in Ontario. The Committee’s recommendations are grouped into five themes: surveillance, prevention, detection, management and awareness.