08/17/2015

Concussion Education Requirements by State

Concussions & Sports–Legal & Ethical Review: Part 6

The following tables, reproduced from the original The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics report1, list the specific details of state concussion education requirements. It is interesting to note that, as of this writing, only five states require that the educational details include discussion of short and long-term consequences of suffering a concussion, and only two require materials about concussion prevention. Five states require that educational material be distributed, but offer no guidelines at all about the nature of that documentation.

(See following pages for tables, reproduced with the permission of the authors and the Executive Director, and up-to-date as of the time of original publication)

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In terms of the effectiveness of various methods of educating athletes and parents about concussions, there is no consensus. A University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Heath, though, found that video presentations increased parents’ confidence that they could identify when their child showed signs of concussion14.

While the poll shows encouraging signs about identifying an effective format for educational materials, it also indicated worrying signs about the overall scope of educational efforts. A full 49% of those polled reported receiving no concussion education at all, other than the signing of a waiver. Only 17% were shown a video or a live presentation.

For better or worse, it seems that litigation is a prime mover for increased emphasis on sports concussion education on the state level. “Facing one of the largest concussion-related lawsuits to date,” writes Yahoo! Sports, “the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released a concussion and head injury education campaign.”15 The campaign, dubbed “Play Hard. Play Smart,” is an effort to go beyond the baseline education requirements already in place. This is a major acknowledgment of the gap between legislative efforts to protect athletes and the reality of our deficiencies in educating about the risks of TBI. Despite the campaign’s roll out, though, it still fell short of requiring medical professionals on the sidelines. The lawsuit calls for this requirement.

Illinois High School Association director Marty Hickman told Yahoo! Sports that the lawsuit did not spark the education campaign, though it helped the association to realize that more education was needed.



1Hutchinson, Edward J. (Ed.). (2014). Concussions and Sports [Special issue]. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 42(3).
14“Poll shows parents find certain concussion education more helpful than others,” last modified November 18, 2014, www.healio.com.
15“Facing lawsuit, Illinois rolls out concussion education campaign,” last modified May 14, 2015, http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/facing-lawsuit--illi....

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