March 14, 2018
Following the death of 17-year-old Rowan Stringer, Ontario health policymakers have worked to improve safety regulations related to concussions at school. Rowan died as result of concussion injuries she suffered during her high school rugby game. On March 6, 2018, the concussion safety legislation “Rowan’s Law” was passed with efforts to protect the health and well-being of amateur athletes by defining concussion guidelines surrounding school sports.
“This is truly a landmark in Ontario legislation that will help to broaden the conversation around concussions and hopefully push the needle forward to advance the clinical guidelines and a standardized approach to care,”
says Kent Bassett-Spiers, CEO of the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) and member of the Rowan’s Law Expert Advisory Committee (second from the right). Other committee members included Warren Hoshizaki, Jennifer Knox, Paul Hunter, Eric Lindros, Chris Markham, Rosie MacLennan, Elisabeth White, Susan Kitchen, Rosana Salvaterra, Charles Tator, Dan Cass (Chair), Kathleen Stringer, Gordon Stringer, Louise Logan although not all were able to attend the official signing ceremony.
The ONF focus on diagnosis and management of concussions received a boost with the passing of Rowan’s Law. The ONF Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) program has developed adult and paediatric guidelines and standards to support timely and effective concussion diagnosis and treatment. The toolkit includes standards of care targeted to healthcare providers as well as educational material and resources for patients and families.
Research indicates only 30% of concussions are sports related, so while the acknowledgment of concussion care for amateur athletes is a progressive accomplishment, there remains a broader discussion for continuity of care for all other concussion injuries.
Judy Gargaro, Clinical and Systems Implementation Coordinator for the ABI program, says
“At ONF we know there is more to be done to ensure the right concussion care, by the right provider, at the right time for all Ontarians. ONF’s ABI program initiatives are committed to providing accessible, evidence-based resources for healthcare providers, patients and support persons to effectively manage concussions and improve outcomes.”
A handbook of patient and family materials are soon to be released in partnership with the Ontario Brain Injury Association, to substantiate the standards of care released in 2017.