The Safety in Youth Sports Act, which provides new guidelines and standards for managing concussions and traumatic brain injuries in student athletes, was introduced to coaches and team across Pennsylvania in 2012. Nathan Kegel, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, previously discussed the specifics of the Act. Dr. Kegel and the faculty and staff at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program believe that a well-managed concussion is the best form of prevention and a part of that is educating parents.
What are the key points of the Safety in Youth Sports Act?
The key points of the Safety in Youth Sports Act include new guidelines and standards for managing concussions in student-athletes. The Act states that:
- Information regarding concussions provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of Education must be properly distributed to all student-athletes and their parents
- Coaches must immediately remove any student-athlete suspected of a concussion from play, with stiff penalties to those not in compliance
- Student-athletes cannot return to play until cleared, in writing, by an appropriate medical professional as defined in the Act
How would you know if your school is complying with the Act?
It is critical that parents understand the key points of the Act, and that they are proactive in ensuring their school is in compliance. All parents should receive information at the beginning of the season that must be signed and returned prior to the student-athlete’s participation. Schools are also encouraged to hold informational meetings prior to the start of each athletic season to discuss:
- Proper evaluation and management
- Information regarding preseason baseline testing
If this is not being offered, parents may request this through the school’s athletic department or by speaking with the Athletic Trainer.
If any parent suspects that the school is not in compliance with the Act, they are encouraged to address the issue directly, or to report the school to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and/or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
What are the consequences if a coach does not comply with the Act?
As noted, there are stiff penalties for coaches not complying with the Act. For those who do not follow the safety standards set forth by the Act, the law sets the following repercussions:
- First violation – suspension from coaching any athletic activity for the remainder of the season
- Second violation – suspension from coaching any athletic activity for the remainder of the season and for the next season
- Third violation – permanent suspension from coaching any athletic activity