Hawaii Gets Tough On Concussion Policies For Student Athletes

25 October

Head injuries are among the biggest issues facing student athletes throughout the nation. While most states have concussion protocols, Hawaii is quickly gaining a reputation as a national leader. The state recently passed legislation to update its 2012 Concussion Education Act. Prior to the updates, there were still some lingering questions on how to correctly handle concussion cases.

Leading the charge to improve concussion protocols is Hawaii state senator Josh Green, who is also an emergency room physician. One of the major issues concerning brain trauma from head injuries to student athletes was the lack of a standardized policy. According to Green, each neurologist would set their own standards. The new legislation addresses many of the most important issues concerning student athletes with concussions including:

  • When should a student athlete leave a game?
  • How long should a student athlete recover after a concussion?

The efforts to establish new stronger state regulations on concussions began in 2007. Back then, the topic of brain injuries among Hawaii student athletes was only handled by the Department of Education. By 2010, the Department of Health established the Hawaii Concussion Awareness Management Program. The funding came from the Department of Health’s neurotrauma support division. The program focuses on educating parents, students, coaches and trainers. The Hawaii Concussion Awareness Management Program has placed the Aloha State as a national leader in providing innovative concussion protocol. Many states have experienced lawsuits due to a lack of concussion management policies. In 2015, two former athletes and a parent filed a class action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association for failing to protect student athletes from concussions. Another lawsuit was filed in 2014 by a high school football player against the Illinois High School Association.

Updates to the Hawaii Concussion Education Act

  • All athletes must receive medical clearance from licensed health care providers trained in concussion management before returning to the field or court.
  • All athletes suspected of having a concussion or head injury must be immediately removed from a game or practice
  • Cognitive baseline testing is required

Concussions are the most common type of brain trauma. It is defined as a head injury with a temporary loss of brain function. Depending on the severity of trauma, it can cause cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, amnesia and sleep disturbances. According to Senator Green, any athlete that has suffered more than one concussion should switch sports.

If your child is a student athlete, it is important to understand the correct protocol for head injuries. Hawaii’s Concussion Education Act requires all freshmen and junior athletes who compete in collision and contact sports to participate in cognitive baseline testing. Sophomores and seniors competing in these sports for the first time must also undergo testing. Football is classified as a collision sport. Contact sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, judo, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling. Sports should be fun and safe. Make sure your child’s high school is complying with the Hawaii Concussion Education Act.

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While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please contact us.

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