Sports Related Head Injuries and Concussions

On July 19, 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law “An Act Relative to Safety Regulations for School Athletic Programs.” This legislation, Chapter 166 of the Acts of 2010, called for the creation of a training program targeted at preventing and treating head injuries (concussions) suffered by student athletes. The legislation amended Chapter 111, Section 222 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

The Act required the Department of Public Health (DPH) to “direct the division of violence and injury prevention to develop an interscholastic athletic head injury safety training program in which all public schools and any school subject to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules shall participate.” These regulations, 105 CMR 201.000, were recently approved after a period of public comment during March and April of 2011.

The approved regulations require each school district to “adopt policies and procedures governing the prevention and management of sports-related head injuries within the school district or school following development of a proposal by a team consisting, at a minimum, of a school administrator, school nurse, school or team physician if on staff, athletic director, certified athletic trainer if on staff, neuropsychologist if available, guidance counselor, and teacher in consultation with any existing school health/wellness advisory committee. Policies and procedures must address sports-related head injuries occurring in extracurricular athletic activities but may be applied to all head injuries in students. Review and revision of such policies and procedures shall occur as needed but at least every two years.”

The attached policy, File: JJIF and File: JJIF-R have been developed to provide each district with a starting point for its own policy development. The two files contain the minimum required by the regulations, however, the specifics as to responsibility assignments is up to the discretion of the district.

MASC Legal Counsel Stephen Finnegan reminds school committees that the Superintendent needs to ensure that by January 1, 2012 the DPH receives an affirmation on school district letterhead indicating that the district has developed policies—on at least an interim basis—which have been adopted by the school committee, and that the school district will submit an additional affirmation after the deadline, no later than March 1, 2012, affirming that the school committee has adopted a final policy in accordance with law. This affirmation is required to be updated by September 30, 2013 and every two years thereafter upon review or revision of its policies. DPH only requires an affirmation on letterhead that an appropriate policy has been adopted, which does not require submission of the specific policy.

Letters should be sent to: Carlene Pavlos, Injury Prevention, Department of Public Health, 250 Washington St., Boston, MA 02108

For more specific information as to the timeline requirements established by the Department of Public Health, please feel free to contact me at the MASC office at or 617-523-8454.