A new groundbreaking law permits student athletes in Iowa to be evaluated by physical therapists to determine when it is safe to 'return to play' following a hit, fall, or other incident in order to reduce the risk of a concussion or other brain injuries.
Signed April 7 by Gov Terry Branstad, SF 367 requires that a student be immediately removed from participation in an activity when a concussion is suspected, and must be evaluated by a physical therapist or other licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and other brain injuries. The health care provider must provide written clearance for the student to return to activity.
The Iowa law is the first to specifically allow student athletes to receive clearance to return to activity from a licensed physical therapist. The Iowa Chapter's grassroots lobbying efforts helped ensure that student athletes with head injuries will continue to have access to physical therapists. Legislation in Vermont also includes physical therapists as health care providers who can make similar decisions, but the bill is awaiting passage. Read about this important legislation at this link.
In June, APTA's House of Delegates will consider a motion to address the role of the physical therapist in the management of concussions. This recommendation is the result of APTA's Consultant Workgroup on Concussions, which also developed model language for APTA chapters to use in advocating for the involvement of physical therapists as part of the health care team responsible for the management of athletes and in making return-to-play decisions.