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Youth Sports Concussion Safety Laws: North Dakota

On April 21, 2011, North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple signed Senate Bill 2281 into law requiring that all schools in the state that sponsor or sanction athletic activities adopt a concussion management program and outlining the specific requirements that must be included in the program.  North Dakota became the fourteenth state to enact a strong youth sports concussion safety law since May 2009 (a number that has swelled to 31 plus the District of Columbia, as of January 2, 2012).

Key provision of the legislation include:

  • Each school district and nonpublic school that sponsors or sanctions any athletic activity and requires a participating student to regularly practice or train, and compete, must develop a concussion management program requiring:
    • students to be removed from competition and practice or training if they report or exhibit any sign or symptom of a concussion;
    • examination as soon as possible of the athlete after removal by a licensed, registered or certified health care provider; 
    • written permission fromk an authorized health care provider before an athlete is allowed to return to competition or training;
    • each official, coach and athletic trainer to receive training every two years regarding the nature and risk of concussions. 
  • Authorizes legislative management to study concussion management, including the nature, scope and applicability of programs designed to prevent or eliminate concussions.

"The importance of this bill begins and ends with our youth in North Dakota," said Sen. Spencer Berry, physician and primary bill sponsor, in a statement on the governor's website.  "They will live a lifetime with their brains and bodies long after youth athletic activities are behind them. Concussion management programs are designed to provide an avenue for these student athletes to be properly recognized, evaluated and treated for a traumatic brain injury that may occur while participating in school sponsored athletic activities."

The state High School Activities Association has similar rules already in place.

Posted April 22, 2011; revised January 2, 2012