In May 2013, 17 year old Rowan Stringer died as a result of a head injury she sustained while playing rugby with her high school team. In the week prior to her final game, Rowan had been hit twice, and likely sustained a concussion each time. These concussions were not recognized, and she continued to play. When she was hit again in her last game, she suffered what is known as Second Impact Syndrome – catastrophic swelling of the brain caused by a second injury that occurs before a previous injury has healed. Rowan collapsed on the field and died four days later in hospital. A coroner’s inquest was convened in 2015 to look into the circumstances of Rowan’s death. The coroner’s jury made 49 recommendations for how the federal government, as well as Ontario’s government ministries, school boards and sports organizations, should improve the manner in which concussions are managed in this province.
CONCUSSION SAFETY LEGISLATION
Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass concussion safety legislation, setting a precedent for sport legislation across the country. On March 7, 2018, Ontario passed Rowan's Law (Concussion Safety), 2018 and related amendments to the Education Act. This new legislation, which received all-party support, is intended to protect amateur athletes by improving concussion safety on the field and at school. Rowan’s Law Day was proclaimed and the first one held on September 26, 2018. The remaining sections of the legislation will be proclaimed once the regulations have been developed. Rowan’s Law (Concussion Safety), 2018, makes Ontario a national leader in concussion management and prevention by establishing mandatory requirements that call for:
• Annual review of concussion awareness resources that help prevent, identify and manage concussions, which athletes, coaches, educators and parents would be required to review before registering in a sport
• Removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols, to ensure that an athlete is immediately removed from sport if they are suspected of having sustained a concussion and giving them the time required to heal properly
• A concussion code of conduct that would set out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions while playing sport.
ROWAN’S LAW DAY
The Last Wednesday in September In honour of the memory of Rowan Stringer, “Rowan's Law Day” is commemorated on the last Wednesday in September to raise awareness about concussions in sport. The first Rowan’s Law Day was September 26, 2018. KEEPING KIDS SAFE Reducing the risk of concussions is always the goal. But concussions happen and knowing what to do – whether you’re an athlete, a parent, a coach or a teacher – saves lives.
The OWHA is the Provincial Sports Organization (PSO) for Female Hockey in the Province of Ontario. The OWHA, its members, participants and others, as referenced in the Act, and as a condition of membership/participation within the OWHA, are bound by the requirements of the Act and of the OWHA. The OWHA is proud to keep the honour the memory of Rowan Stringer and express sincere thanks to the Stringer family and all those committed to working together to support concussion surveillance, prevention, detection, management and awareness.