1. Miller, Gabrielle F. PhD
  2. DePadilla, Lara PhD
  3. Jones, Sherry Everett PhD, JD, MPH
  4. Lionbarger, Michael MPH
  5. Thigpen, Sally MPA


Background: Beginning in 2009, there was an increase in the number of states with laws addressing 3 different components of youth sports-related concussion prevention and management: concussion education, removal from play, and medical clearance requirements before allowing an athlete to return to play. Schools are an important setting to implement policies and practices related to concussions, as many youth participate in organized sports through school venues.


Objective: To examine whether the prevalence of concussion-related policies and practices adopted by school districts changed from 2012 to 2016.


Methods: This study used nationally representative data from the 2012 and 2016 School Health Policies and Practices Study to examine whether the prevalence of 4 concussion-related policies and practices changed during 2012 and 2016 and whether comprehensive policies changed during the same time frame. Comprehensive policies were defined as those that address removal from play after injury, medical clearance before returning to play, and concussion-related educational materials and sessions for parents and student athletes.


Results: Among school districts nationwide, the prevalence of each of the 4 concussion-related policies and practices significantly increased during 2012 and 2016. The prevalence of comprehensive policies significantly increased from 51.6% in 2012 to 66.7% in 2016. While these findings are promising, it is important to note that one-third of districts still lacked comprehensive policies in 2016 and only 71% of districts provided educational sessions in 2016.


Conclusions: The findings in this study highlight improvements in school districts nationwide in adopting concussion-related policies and practices. Policies such as requiring educational sessions allow parents and student athletes to learn about concussions and understand the importance of reporting a concussion or concussion symptoms.