Iowa implements steps for concussion recovery of young athletes


As Iowa’s young athletes take the field or court this fall, new protections will be in place to keep them safe.

Jason Viel, an athletic training at Pleasant Valley High School, was in Des Moines April 26 to watch Governor Kim Reynolds sign in the new law.

It requires schools to have Return to Play and Return to Learn plans in place following a concussion.

It covers both middle and high schools.

Viel, who is also the president-elect for Iowa Athletic Trainers Society that worked to get the bill passed over the last five years, said rushing back to the sport or school books can often do more harm.

“They’re here to go to school. Sports and extracurricular are a bonus for them, so we want to make sure they’re ready to be back in the classroom 100 percent and not suffering there cause that can affect daily life, that can affect their futures if their grades are suffering,” said Viel. 

It can also take longer to return to studies than a student might see themselves out of the game. 

“They may have gone from an A student to a C student, and it’s not because they’re not trying, it’s because they can’t. They just can’t focus for a long enough time. They need that extra length taking a test. They need the notes read to them rather than trying to take those notes,” Viel said. 

Viel sees students receiving concussions in every sport including dance, not just those associated with hard hits. 

He also said the law is designed to help provide instruction to help rural school districts where they might not have an athletic trainer or medical professional trained in head injuries on the sidelines to help if a concussion happens. It provides them instruction on how to best respond.

Many schools in the area have already taken steps prescribed in the law, and Viel said he reaches out to student’s teachers after a concussion on how to respond and what to look out for.

He said the impact and recovery from a concussion is different for each student. 

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