The state of Alabama passed a concussion law for sports in June of 2011. Concussions had become a major issue in the previous years and most states were passing similar legislation. Since that time, the concussion issue has quieted and many schools, administrators, and coaches have forgotten some of the details of the law.
All football coaches need to know the rule almost to the point of memorization. It may never be an problem, but if there is ever a legal issue over a concussion with a current or even a former player, the first item will be whether or not the state concussion law was followed.
According to the law, a concussion is caused by a blow or motion to the head, neck, or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. A concussion can happen to anyone and can happen during practice or play in any sport or any athletic activity.
A concussion and head injury information sheet must be reviewed, signed, and submitted by the youth athletes and their parent or guardian prior to any practice or competition. This requirement is satisfied when students and parents sign the AHSAA Concussion Form.
Each local school system and community sport or recreational organization must ensure that coaches undergo annual training to learn how to recognize concussion symptoms and to seek proper medical treatment. This is part of the law that is overlooked by most coaches. Training must be annual. It is not specified who does the training, but if a coach finds himself in a legal situation over a player concussion, to show that the coach underwent training by a medical professional would be an important item of protection. A school nurse would be a good source of training as they are readily accessible at most schools.
When training takes place, it is critical that all that attend sign a document that they were present and that document be filled annually in the superintendent's office.
If coaches are not having annual training and following the Alabama law, they put themselves, their staff and their school in danger of litigation should an issue arise with a player concussion.
Get your coaches and staff trained prior to the beginning of fall practice and get those concussion forms signed.