State Return-to-Learn Youth Sports Concussion Laws

Document Type

Conference Abstract

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting


Concussion management in youth sports is an important public health issue. Currently, all U.S. states have return-to-play (RTP) provisions in their concussion laws limiting a student's return to sports after suffering a concussion. Another type of limitation is a return-to-learn (RTL) provision. Whereas RTP provisions limit reentry into sports, RTL provisions center on academics. Although numerous studies have documented the effect of concussions on student academic performance, few laws contain RTL provisions. Research based on 2014 data presented by The Network for Public Health Law found only seven states with RTL restrictions. The objective of this research is to give a current presentation of U.S. states with RTL laws. A comparative analysis and a discussion of relevant policy issues will be included. The presentation will educate a lay audience. Laws of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia were systematically reviewed. An analysis through December 2015 has been conducted and will continue throughout the spring 2016 legislative sessions. Legal research was conducted by means of WestlawNext and state legislative websites. Queries used consist of variable search terms to elicit laws applicable to concussion, traumatic brain injury, RTP, and RTL. Preliminary findings indicate 9 states have enacted RTL laws. An analysis extended through June 2016 is expected to reveal additional states with RTL laws. As compared to RTP restrictions, states have been slow to enact RTL provisions. The increased inclusion of RTL provisions in state concussion laws will improve public health. Numerous variations across states merit discussion.