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Concussions in Youth Athletes - Tennessee


The Tennessee law is found at Sections 68-55-501 through 68-55-503 of Tennessee Code under the Health, Safety and Environmental Protection statutes specifically Chapter 55 – Head and Spinal Cord information and Part 5 dealing with Youth Sports-Related Injuries.

Section 68-55-502 addresses the application of Tennessee Law to school youth activity and section 68-55-503 addresses community based youth athletic activity.

The Tennessee law applies to school youth athletic activity as well as community-based athletic activity or youth athletic activity. Section 68-53-501 defines “Community-based youth athletic activity” or “youth athletic activity” as an athletic activity organized by a city, county, business or nonprofit organization where the majority of the participants are under eighteen (18) years of age and engage in an organized athletic competition or practice or preparation for an organized game or competition. “School youth activity” means a school organized athletic activity where the majority of participants are under eighteen (18) years of age and are engaging in a competition against another team, club, or entity on in practice. School youth athletic activity does not include college or university activities or an activity entered into for instructional purposes only, an athletic activity that is incidental to a nonathletic program. In either case (§ 68-55-502 applies to school youth athletic activity and § 68-55-503 applies to community-based youth athletic activity), the law requires adoption of guidelines, other information and forms approved by the health department to inform coaches, parents, youth athletes about the nature and risk of concussion and head injury and the continuation of play after sustaining a concussion or head injury. Coaches will be required to complete an annual training program approved by the department of health. Annually a concussion and head injury information sheet will be reviewed by all youth athletes and a parent and signed. It is required that documentation and signed concussion information sheets be retained for a period of three (3) years. A youth athlete exhibiting signs, symptoms and behaviors consistent with concussion must be immediately removed from play and evaluated by a team medical provider, coach or other designated person. A youth athlete sustaining or suspected of having sustained may not return to play until undergoing an evaluation by health care provider and receiving written clearance for full or graduated return to play. A team medical provider may manage a student athletes graduated return to play based upon a health care provider’s recommendations. No health care provider or any person acting in good faith shall be liable in the absence of willful misconduct, gross negligence or reckless disregard. All health care professionals performing any functions in accordance with this law shall receive training in concussion evaluation and management.

The text of §68-55-501, §68-55-502 and §68-55-503 can be viewed online by accessing free public access to LexisNexis:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/tncode/ - (use natural language button and search full text for concussion).

The following website offers additional information regarding Tennessee concussion law: