State Concussion Laws

Five years ago (2010), only 10 states had laws addressing traumatic brain injuries in youth sports. Since Washington state enacted the Zackery Lystedt law in 2009, every state and the District of Columbia has enacted some form of “When In Doubt, Sit Them Out” law (Wyoming enacted a law, although it is so weak it is not counted in this table).

The laws by themselves are not the solution. For instance, most states require some form of education of student athletes and their parents, but in almost every state this takes the form of nothing more than a piece of paper that must be signed by the athlete and parent before participation. Given the significant number of permission slips and other documentation that students and parents must sign, it is hard to imagine this step succeeds in providing anything approaching comprehensive education. Very few states require parents be notified of their child’s traumatic brain injury, and even fewer mandate medical personnel be present at games involving collisions.

Some states go further than others. Rhode Island, for example, not only has a return to play protocol, coach training, and athlete and parent education, it also encourages the use of baseline testing and the attendance of medical trainers at all athletic events. Tennessee has a brain trauma registry to study incidence information, and disseminates a list of public and private agencies which can provide services to people with TBIs. Vermont requires training for referees as well as coaches, requires schools have a concussion management plan, and requires health care providers to be present at all collision sports, and for visiting team’s athletic directors to be notified of any concussions within 48 hours of a game. Colorado and Idaho extends their concussion laws all the way down to middle school (though Colorado is one of the few states that does not require athlete and parent education).

Five years ago (2010), only 10 states had laws addressing traumatic brain injuries in youth sports. Since Washington state enacted the Zackery​ Lystedt law in 2009, every state and the District of Columbia has enacted some form of “When In Doubt, Sit Them Out” law (Wyoming enacted a law, although it is so weak it is not counted in this table).

The laws by themselves are not the solution. For instance, most states require some form of education of student athletes and their parents, but in almost every state this takes the form of nothing more than a piece of paper that must be signed by the athlete and parent before participation. Given the significant number of permission slips and other documentation that students and parents must sign, it is hard to imagine this step succeeds in providing anything approaching comprehensive education. Very few states require parents be notified of their child’s traumatic brain injury, and even fewer mandate medical personnel be present at games involving collisions.

Some states go further than others. Rhode Island, for example, not only has a return to play protocol, coach training, and athlete and parent education, it also encourages the use of baseline testing and the attendance of medical trainers at all athletic events. Tennessee has a brain trauma registry to study incidence information, and disseminates a list of public and private agencies which can provide services to people with TBIs. Vermont requires training for referees as well as coaches, requires schools have a concussion management plan, and requires health care providers to be present at all collision sports, and for visiting team’s athletic directors to be notified of any concussions within 48 hours of a game. Colorado and Idaho extends their concussion laws all the way down to middle school (though Colorado is one of the few states that does not require athlete and parent education).

State Requires clearing health professional to be licensed physician or trained in TBI management Requires training for coaches Requires athlete education Requires parent education Requires parent notification of suspected or diagnosed TBI
Alabama  
Alaska    
Arizona    
Arkansas  
California    
Colorado      
Connecticut
Delaware  
DC  
Florida  
Georgia      
Hawaii    
Idaho    
Iowa    
Illinois  
Indiana  
Kansas      
Kentucky  
Louisiana
Maine  
Maryland    
Massachusetts
Michigan      
Minnesota ✔  * ✔  *  
Missouri   ✔  *  
Mississippi        
Montana  
Nebraska *
Nevada    
New Hampshire   * *  
New Jersey  
New Mexico    
New York  
North Carolina   * *  
North Dakota  
Ohio   ✔  *  
Oklahoma    
Oregon    
Pennsylvania    
Rhode Island  
South Carolina      
South Dakota  
Tennessee  
Texas    
Utah      
Vermont
Virginia      
Washington    
Wisconsin      
West Virginia  
Wyoming    

* Connecticut added parental notification in May 2015 through Public Act 14-66: An Act Concerning Youth Athletics and Concussions.
Minnesota only requires student/parent education if a consent form is already required, in which case, concussion information is on that form.
Missouri’s information sheet must only be signed by the parent, not the athlete themselves.
Nebraska requires that training for coaches be “made available,” but does not require coaches to be so trained.
New Hampshire requires materials be distributed, but does not require any confirmation of receipt or other steps.
North Carolina requires coaches and athletes receive a concussion information sheet, but does not require acknowledgement of receipt or specific coach training.
Pennsylvania, which mandates suspensions of coaches found in violation of concussion protocols, is the only state to include an enforcement mechanism with its return-to-play law.
Wyoming calls for school districts to develop concussion protocols, but specifically states that no school district is required to adopt the protocols.