Ontario passes ‘Rowan’s Law’ to prevent concussions in young athletes

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Ontario passes ‘Rowans Law’ to prevent concussions in youth
'Rowans Law' establishes removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols for young athletes if a concussion is suspected – Mar 7, 2018

The Ontario government has passed legislation known as Rowan’s Law, which is designed to protect amateur athletes and educate coaches on the dangers of head injuries.

It’s being called the first concussion law of its kind in Canada.

Concussions are all too familiar for former NHLer Marc Savard, who now coaches minor hockey in Peterborough.

His professional career ended thanks to a concussion.

“It’s huge that Ontario stepped up and put this in place,” Savard said. “This testing is paramount and needs to go worldwide.”

READ MORE: Ontario government creates committee to focus on reducing youth concussions

Rowan’s Law is named after Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old Ottawa rugby player who died from a head injury.

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The legislation was created following a coroner’s inquest into Rowan’s 2013 death, adopting both its recommendations and the work of a legislative advisory committee on concussion management and prevention.

The law establishes removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols to ensure players are removed from competition if a concussion is suspected.

“We ended up passing this piece of legislation with all-party support. It was a joyous occasion in my career, but it came from a tragedy,” said Lisa MacLeod, Nepean-Carleton MPP.

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has been proactive with concussion protocols for its elementary and secondary school athletes.

“We have had protocols in place for a number of years. Frankly, we welcome Rowan’s Law. If it fine tunes our work with coaches and teachers, that’s all good,” said Peter Mangold, superintendent of education.

READ MORE: Marc Savard retires from the NHL

At the professional level, concussions are at the forefront, as leagues look at ways not only to protect current players from head injuries, but also players who are in retirement — and may be suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE — a degenerative brain disease found in athletes with a history of brain trauma.

“To every pro sports league out there, if you actually care about player safety and health, call Rugby Canada, because they have been at the forefront of this tragedy but also at the forefront of its solution,” MacLeod said.

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