New rules for the schools
Students gearing up for fall tryouts will have to add a new piece to their preseason routines this year: concussion training. The Legislature last year passed a law aimed at preventing the progression of concussions in student-athletes, and the Department of Public Health in June issued guidelines that people involved in school sports at public middle schools and high schools must follow to comply. Here are a few highlights of what is required:
>Parents, players, coaches, school nurses, volunteers, and others involved with team sports must participate in a state-approved training program each year aimed at teaching people to recognize the symptoms of concussions and understand the risks of playing without proper rest and recuperation. One way schools can cover this requirement is by including these training materials in parent meetings.
>Before every season, student-athletes must file a history of head injuries to be reviewed by the school nursing staff.
>Students who suffer a head injury or suspected concussion during practice or competition must sit out the rest of the day and be cleared by a doctor before returning to play. The goal, said Dr. Lauren Smith, the public health department’s medical director, is to avoid attempts at sideline diagnosis.
>If students suffer a head injury during the season but not during team activities, their parents must report the incident to the coach or another specified school official.
>Students who are diagnosed with a concussion must have a plan, developed in conjunction with their teachers, parents, coaching staff, and diagnosing physician, for gradually resuming athletic and academic activities.
>Schools must report annual concussion statistics to the state.