The City of Norwalk, Conn. made history last month when the Norwalk Common Council voted 15 to 0 to approve Youth Sport Concussion Guidelines for its 6,000 youth athletes and 700 coaches who use municipal fields, gyms and facilities.
Connecticut’s Concussion Law only applied to Norwalk’s 1,145 high school athletes, meaning city guidelines were needed to extend the concussion protocol to the remaining youth athletes. To illustrate that point,
“Norwalk has set a new ‘standard of care’ for young athletes ages 3 to 18,” said Snedaker. “These guidelines are the most progressive for any city in Connecticut and maybe even in the United States.”Katherine Snedaker, a Norwalk resident and Executive Director of the non-profit PinkConcussions.com, told Concussion Litigation Reporter that 75 students in Norwalk public schools have reported concussions with 19 of them coming from non-school sports, which were not covered by the state law.
Snedaker, who was instrumental in getting the guidelines passed, said the guidelines will apply to all City of Norwalk-sponsored Athletic Activities and Programs and to those Athletic Activities and Programs operated or conducted by any user group or organization on or in facilities belonging to the City of Norwalk.
Athletic Activities and/or Programs can be defined as “all activities including practices, training, performances, scrimmage, games and other organized competitions involving athletic activities such as sports and dance.”
As of April 15, 2015, any sports team which wants to obtain a permit to use city fields, gym or courts must:
1. Train Coaches and Educate Parents, and Athletes
a. Train coaches, through FREE CDC online training
b. Educate athletes and parents and guardians about concussion with FREE CDC concussion information fact handouts
2. Remove From Play ANY Athlete who is showing signs, symptoms, behaviors of concussion
a. REMOVE POSSIBLY INJURED PLAYERS showing the signs, symptoms and/or behaviors of a possible head injury
b. Immediately notify parents of injury
c. Request evaluation from a medical provider
d. Hold out athlete from returning to play for at least 24 HOURS
3. Obtain Permission to Return to Play
An athlete can only return to play or practice after at least 24 hours and with written permission from a health care professional
4. Record Concussions and submit injury report via official online form to Rec & Park for all concussions
Snedaker said the guidelines are “win-win” for all involved.
“While no law can prevent a concussion, these guidelines will increase safety for children while lowering risk liability for coaches, leagues and the town,” she said. “It is a win-win for all.”
She hopes other cities in Connecticut will recognize their value.
“There are certain groups in our state, who are scared to have youth sports added to the state law. Norwalk’s success at passing the guidelines with all leagues supporting, and not one angry phone call, shows it can be done.”