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Youth Sports Concussion Safety Laws: Indiana

On May 10, 2011, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels signed a strong youth sports concussion safety act (Senate Enrolled Act 93) into law, becoming the sixteenth state since May 2009 to enact such a law, a number that now stands at 31 plus the District of Columbia (as of January 2, 2012). Soccer player being treated for concussion

The key provisions of the law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2011 and is modeled on the groundbreaking Zackery Lystedt Law enacted by Washington State two years earlier, are as follows:

  • Covers school sports and non-school sports programs: A 2014 amendment extended the coverage to non-school "organizing entities" that use property owned, leased, or maintained by the state or other political subdivision.
  • Guidelines/education. Requires the development and dissemination of concussion guidelines, information sheets and forms to inform and educate coaches, student athletes and parents of the nature and risk of concussion, including the risks of continuing to play after concussion or head injury.
  • Mandatory consent: requires youth athletes and a 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;
  • 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
  • Clearance before return to play. Youth athletes who have been taken out of a game because of a suspected concussion are not allowed to return to play until after:
    • waiting 24 hours;
    • being evaluated by a health care provider with specific training in the evaluation and management of concussions
    • receiving written clearance to return to play from that health care provider (this does not strictly bar same day return to play).
  • Legal immunity: A licensed health care provider who evaluates a student athlete for concussion and in good faith authorizes a student athlete to return to play is not liable for civil damages resulting from an act or omission in the rendering of an evaluation unless the acts or omissions constitute gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

Passage applauded

James R. Whitehead, CEO of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), said, "In passing this law, the Indiana General Assembly has gotten something very right.  SEA93 marks a significant step forward in protecting the health and safety of youth athletes.  It is highly appropriate that Indiana - the home of the American College of Sports Medicine - should pass an effective concussion law."  

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement, that "We are pleased that Governor Daniels and the Indiana General Assembly have recognized that steps must be urgently taken to protect children and young student-athletes from preventable concussions and other brain injuries."

Posted May 24, 2011; revised March 30, 2015