Glen Rock Board of Education adopted a revised concussion management policy at its July 6 public meeting
Amid ongoing health concerns about sports-related head injuries, the Glen Rock Board of Education adopted a revised concussion management policy at its July 6 public meeting.
Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics that at least three million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the U.S. every year, the policy language states that the “competitive athletic culture of playing through pain or ‘toughing it out’ puts student-athletes at risk of brain injury, disability and death.”
While noting that allowing a student athlete to return to play before recovering from a concussion increases the chance of more serious brain injury, the policy holds that the effects of concussion, while not preventable, can be “mitigated by proper recognition and appropriate response.”
To that end, the BOE policy now stipulates that all coaches, school nurses, school/team physicians and certified athletic trainers must complete an interscholastic head injury training program, such as the National Federation of State High School Association’s online “Concussion in Sports Training” program, or a comparable program that meets mandated criteria.
The chosen program must include training in the recognition of the symptoms of head and neck injuries, concussions and injuries related to “second impact syndrome,” and a description of the need for appropriate time to delay the return to sports competition or practice of a student athlete who has sustained a concussion or other head injury.
However, the policy also states that if no additional time is specified for a particular age group or sport, the student athlete may return “when written medical clearance is given to the athlete, stating that he or she is symptom-free and has already completed an appropriate, graduated, individualized return-to-play protocol.”
The guideline also requires annual baseline (cognitive response) testing for all middle school and high school student athletes prior to sports participation using the ImPACT online testing program.
Regarding in-game incidents, it mandates that any student athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion or “exhibiting or complaining of” concussion-related symptoms — or any student who has sustained a concussion or has become unconscious during a practice or athletic contest — be removed from play and not permitted to return that day.
In each instance, a medical evaluation must be performed by a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and/or school doctor or other certified and approved medical personnel to determine the “presence or absence of a concussion.” If a student is diagnosed with a concussion, a minimum seven-day wait before returning to activity is imposed.
The policy states the student “must be free of all concussion symptoms for seven days prior to return.”
In addition, the same cognitive ImPACT test administered previously as a baseline is to be used to determine whether physical clearance and return to activity are appropriate. The test would be administered and/or evaluated by a BOE-approved, concussion-trained doctor.
Following such clearance, the certified athletic trainer and coach are directed to implement a “gradual and acclimated” return to activity under “Zurich Consensus Statement” guidelines.
The revised policy also requires that the N.J. Department of Education Concussion and Head Injury fact sheet — and the Glen Rock district’s Concussion Policy Acknowledgement form — be distributed annually to every student athlete who participates in interscholastic sports.
Parents must sign and return the form prior to student participation in any athletic practice or event.