Concussion Code of Conduct for Athletes and Parents/Guardians (of athletes under 18 year of age)

I will help prevent concussions by:
• Wearing the proper equipment for my sport and wearing it correctly.
• Developing my skills and strength so that I can participate to the best of my ability.
• Respecting the rules of my sport or activity.
• My commitment to fair play and respect for all* (respecting other athletes, coaches, team trainers and officials).

I will care for my health and safety by taking concussions seriously, and I understand that:
• A concussion is a brain injury that can have both short- and long-term effects.
• A blow to my head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that causes the brain to move around inside the skull may cause a concussion.
• I don’t need to lose consciousness to have had a concussion.
• I have a commitment to concussion recognition and reporting, including self-reporting of possible concussion and reporting to a designated person when and individual suspects that another individual may have sustained a concussion.* (Meaning: If I think I might have a concussion I should stop participating in further training, practice or competition immediately, or tell an adult if I think another athlete has a concussion).
• Continuing to participate in further training, practice or competition with a possible concussion increases my risk of more severe, longer lasting symptoms, and increases my risk of other injuries.

I will not hide concussion symptoms. I will speak up for myself and others.
• I will not hide my symptoms. I will tell a coach, official, team trainer, parent or another adult I trust if I experience any symptoms of concussion.
• If someone else tells me about concussion symptoms, or I see signs they might have a concussion, I will tell a coach, official, team trainer, parent or another adult I trust so they can help.
• I understand that if I have a suspected concussion, I will be removed from sport and that I will not be able to return to training, practice or competition until I undergo a medical assessment by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner and have been medically cleared to return to training, practice or competition.
• I have a commitment to sharing any pertinent information regarding incidents of removal from sport with the athlete’s school and any other sport organization with which the athlete has registered* (Meaning: If I am diagnosed with a concussion, I understand that letting all of my other coaches and teachers know about my injury will help them support me while I recover.)

I will take the time I need to recover, because it is important for my health.
• I understand my commitment to supporting the return-to-sport process* (I will have to follow my sport organization’s Return-to-Sport Protocol).
• I understand I will have to be medically cleared by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner before returning to training, practice or competition.
• I will respect my coaches, team trainers, parents, health-care professionals, and medical doctors and nurse practitioners, regarding my health and safety.

Items marked with an asterisk * are mandatory by O.Reg. 161/19: General.

The recognition of concussion in sport is coming to the forefront of injury in sport. More and more scientific and public press attention is paid to this injury, and our knowledge of the causation, effects and outcomes of concussion injury is expanding daily. Skate Canada and its medical team recognize the importance and need for athletes, parents, coaches and other team members to rapidly and appropriately recognize and respond to a concussion injury. Policies are currently being drafted to further address this.

There are Skate Canada and Skate Canada Central Ontario policies currently available for parents, skaters and coaches to reference, and links for these are provided below.

Please note that this information is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to and does not constitute any medical advice and does not contain any medical diagnoses, symptom assessments or medical opinions.

Skate Canada Concussion Policy

Skate Ontario Concussion Policy

The Rowan’s Law Removal-from/Return-to-sport requirements will come into effect on July 1, 2020. After this date, sport organizations will be required to have a removal-from/return-to-sport protocol.

Rowan’s Law was named for Rowan Stringer, a high school rugby player from Ottawa, who died in the spring of 2013 from a condition known as second impact syndrome (swelling of the brain caused by a subsequent injury that occurred before a previous injury healed). Rowan is believed to have experienced three concussions over six days while playing rugby. She had a concussion but didn’t know her brain needed time to heal. Neither did her parents, teachers or coaches.

Rowan’s Law and Rowan’s Law Day were established to honour her memory and bring awareness to concussions and concussion safety.

On July 1, 2019, new rules came into effect through Rowan’s Law, to improve concussion safety in amateur competitive sport.

If you are an athlete under 26 years of age*, parent of an athlete under 18, coach, team trainer or official and your sport organization has advised that you need to follow the rules of Rowan’s Law you need to:

  • review any one of Ontario's official Concussion Awareness Resources before registering or serving with your sport organization; and
  • review your sport organization’s Concussion Code of Conduct that they will provide to you; and
  • confirm that you have reviewed both of these resources every year with your sport organization(s)

* Exception: A sport organization that is a University, College of Applied Arts and Technology or other Post-Secondary Institution will be advising athletes of any age that they need to follow the rules of Rowan’s Law.

Involved in more than one sport?

No matter how many sport organizations you register with in a given year, you are only required to review a Concussion Awareness Resource once within that year. You are however required to confirm your review of a Concussion Awareness Resource with each sport organization with which you register.

You are also required to both review and confirm your review of the Concussion Code of Conduct for each sport organization with which you register.

Next Steps for Parents/Guardians and Athletes

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury. It can’t be seen on X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. It may affect the way a person thinks, feels and acts.

Any blow to the head, face or neck may cause a concussion. A concussion may also be caused by a blow to the body if the force of the blow causes the brain to move around inside the skull. A concussion can happen to anyone – anywhere – including:

  • at home, school or your workplace
  • following a car, bike or pedestrian accident
  • from participating in games, sports or other physical activity

A concussion is a serious injury. While the effects are typically short-term, a concussion can lead to long-lasting symptoms and even long-term effects.

What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

Everyone can help recognize a possible concussion if they know what to look for. A person with a concussion might have any of the signs or symptoms listed below. They might show up right away or hours, or even days later. Just one sign or symptom is enough to suspect a concussion. Most people with a concussion do not lose consciousness.

Common signs and symptoms:

Physical

  • Headache
  • Pressure in the head
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Balance problems
  • Tired or low energy
  • Drowsiness
  • “Don’t feel right”

Sleep-related

  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Having a hard time falling asleep

Cognitive (Thinking)

  • Not thinking clearly
  • Slower thinking
  • Feeling confused
  • Problems concentrating
  • Problems remembering

Emotional

  • Irritability (easily upset or angered)
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Nervous or anxious

Red Flags

“Red flags” may mean the person has a more serious injury. Treat red flags as an emergency and call 911.

Red flags include:

  • Neck pain or tenderness
  • Double vision
  • Weakness or tingling in arms or legs
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Loss of consciousness (knocked out)
  • Vomiting more than once
  • Increasingly restless, agitated or aggressive
  • Getting more and more confused

What steps should I follow if someone I know, or myself, is suspected of having a concussion?

Follow these three steps if you — or someone you know — experiences a blow to the head, face, neck or body and you suspect a concussion. Call 911 if you are concerned the injury is life-threatening, such as the person is unconscious or they had a seizure.

  1. Recognize signs and symptoms of a concussion and remove yourself or the athlete from the sport/physical activity, even if you feel OK or they insist they are OK.
  2. Get yourself or the athlete checked out by a physician or nurse practitioner.
  3. Support gradual return to school and sport.

These resources are not intended to provide medical advice relating to health care. For advice on health care for concussion symptoms, please consult with a physician or nurse practitioner.

This information is not for emergencies, nor is it intended to replace or provide medical advice. For emergencies, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital or emergency department. For advice on health care for concussion symptoms, please consult with a physician or nurse practitioner.