Rowan’s Law (Concussion Safety), 2018 is named for Rowan Stringer, a high school rugby player from Ottawa who died from ‘second impact syndrome’ — a condition where the brain swells after a person suffers a second injury before a previous injury heals. In Rowan’s case, she experienced three concussions over six days while playing rugby. Her brain did not have a chance to recover from the first two concussions before she suffered the third concussion and experienced second impact syndrome. Unfortunately, Rowan ultimately succumbed to her injuries, highlighting the serious nature of concussions and second impact syndrome.
The coroner’s inquest into Rowan’s death resulted in 49 recommendations, which included:
As a result, Rowan’s Law andRowan’s Law Day were established to honour her memory and bring awareness to concussions and concussion safety.
Rowan’s Law provides a framework for concussion prevention, detection, and management within amateur competitive sports. It includes requirements for the removal from and return to sport, which came into effect on January 1, 2022.
Athletes who have sustained a concussion or who are suspected of having sustained a concussion must be removed from further training, practice, or competition. Athletes cannot return to full participation until medically assessed and cleared.
Under Rowan’s Law, only physicians and nurse practitioners can medically assess or confirm medical clearance for athletes to return to unrestricted participation in sport. The law does not specify the confirmation needed to demonstrate that a physician or nurse practitioner has provided a diagnosis or medical clearance.
Concussion management can be complex and may require a multidisciplinary approach with a continuum of care. Physicians and nurse practitioners should follow current best practices for concussion management and ensure that their documentation meets the requirements set out by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the College of Nurses of Ontario, respectively.
Other health care providers, like physiotherapists, chiropractors, and dentists, should be aware of the signs and symptoms of sports-related concussions and direct patients to see a physician or a nurse practitioner to assess and manage these conditions.
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