In March 2018, Rowans law was passed into law in Ontario Canada.
Rowan’s law came into effect because Rowan Stringer a beautiful, young, active 17-year-old girl, received a brain impact whilst playing rugby one afternoon.
No one noticed the impact, (as is the case 90% of the time) and Rowan (like most teenagers, did not tell her coach or parents). Rowan, unfortunately played rugby again a few days later, and was tackled to the ground, where she hit her head- Rowan heartbreakingly passed away!
Rowans parents petitioned the Ontario government, and a commission subsequently generated 49 recommendations with regards to concussion. These recommendations were passed into law in March and “Rowans law” the protocol associated with the management of a concussive incident came into effect. Rowan is not the only child to have died from sustaining a second brain impact or concussion. She is not the only who “did not report it”, and she won’t be the last! But, she could be!
Today every sport, club, coach and most active sportsmen/women have either themselves suffered a concussion or know of someone who has. Many will know, that there is defined “protocol” based on “recommendations by the medical profession” that needs to be followed.
Our question is- IS A ONE SIZE PROTOCOL GOOD ENOUGH?
No matter the sport, each and every one, has a document or a page on their website dedicated to concussion, and what the symptoms are. Some may even go so far as to tell you about a SCAT test, and BASELINE testing. They may even include a copy of their procedure document, stating an “injured player must be pulled from the area/playing field, ice”, allowed to sit quietly for a few minutes, asked some basic questions, like: “Are you nauseous, does your head hurt, how many fingers am I holding up?”
In addition, a player may be told to “go home”, “rest”, “take a headache tablet”, “go see a doctor” if they feel “off”, and do not come back to practice without a DR’s note, “signing off” on the impact.
But again, our questions is, “IS THIS ENOUGH”?
Research tells us, that 90% of all brain impacts go unnoticed, unreported, untreated and unmanaged, so where does this “protocol” put these 90%? How does the protocol actually protect Rowan? (who, like most people, will not mention a “blow to the head”, believing it is “insignificant”)
Well, IT DOES NOT! Nor, do the protocols take into account many of the factors that influence the severity of a brain impact, like, age, gender, hormones, sport, fitness level.
The One size fits all policy, may be “helpful” for a 25 year old man, but a 8 year old boy, who communicates with a different vocabulary at 8, than 25, this protocol, could be just as dangerous as none!
We are not saying that “no protocol” is a good idea, not at all. But, what we are saying is, that a brain impact, is not “a one size fits all” problem, so the protocol should not be a “one size fits all” solution.
The problem was not so much as Rowan had an impact, but more specifically, she had an impact that was not noticed!
First, we need to stop the unnoticed brain impacts (which SportFitz have done with the Fitz wearable brain impact monitor), then gather the much-needed information with regards to all impacts, across all sports, all ages, and then, create a unique protocol best suited to age, gender and sport. One that will have the right benefit for the player, no matter their age, gender, sport!