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Youth Sports Concussion Safety Laws: Rhode Island

Rhode Island's youth sports concussion safety law took effect on July 7, 2010.

The key provisions of the Rhode Island law are as follows:

  • Guidelines/education:
    • The state departments of education and health is required to work with the Rhode Island interscholastic league to develop concussion guidelines and education programs;
    • School districts will be required to use "Heads Up" concussion materials provided by Centers for Disease Control or comparable training materials; and
    • All coaches, athletic trainers, and volunteers involved in a youth sport or activity covered by the law (schools sports for athletes under age 19) must complete a training course in concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Informed consent to play: requires parent and/or guardian sign and return a concussion and head injury information sheet on a yearly basis before the athlete's first practice or being allowed to compete;
  • Baseline neurocognitive testing encouraged but not required;
  • Schools encouraged but not required to have athletic trainer at games;
  • Immediate removal if concussion suspected: Youth athletes suspected of having sustained a concussion in a practice or game must be immediately removed from competition; and
  • Return to play only after medical clearance: Youth athletes who have been taken out of a game because of a suspected concussion are not be allowed to return to play until after:
    • the athlete has been evaluated by a licensed physician;
    • the athlete has received written clearance to return to play from that physician; and
    • both the athlete and a parent or guardian have signed and returned a concussion and head injury information sheet.

An amendment to the current law under consideration (HB 5440) would broaden the scope of those medical professionals who can diagnose and manage a student-athlete's concussion, require all student-athletes to undergo baseline neuropsychological testing prior to the start of every sport season, and require coaches/volunteers to complete an annual concussion safety refresher course.

Revised January 2, 2012