(Editor’s Note: The following piece was written by Marco S. Boscolo (MA, ATC, LAT, PhD Candidate). A more extensive piece will appear next month in Concussion Litigation Reporter)
Every high school’s environment is different. Each concussion policy, procedure or program (CPPP) will reflect the school’s environment, however there will be main components that need to be addressed in a comprehensive CPPP.
A comprehensive CPPP must adhere to state law, regularly educate coaches, staff, school personnel and players about concussions and concussion recognition, make available information for concussion treatment, have in place a system for returning to school after a concussion and have in place a system for returning to physical activity after a concussion.
The design and implementation of a comprehensive CPPP should include all affected individuals: the athlete, parent, coach, athletic trainer, physician, teacher, school counselor, school administrator(s), school nurse and school board. Athletic trainers, with their medical background, are a great resource in the design and implementation of a CPPP as they regularly work with and communicate with each of the aforementioned groups. ConcussionHub.com has examples of polices, based upon your school’s resources, such as neurocognitive testing and availability of medical personal.
The recognition and the reporting of a concussion by the athlete, parent, teammate, coach, and teacher is influenced by the concussion education program that is in place at a school. A good concussion program will continually educate the athlete, parent, coach, and school personnel on concussions and concussion care. The more people know about concussions and their signs and symptoms, the more likely they are to report them so that the concussed can get proper treatment.
Treatment of a concussion generally involves rest and reduction of daily activities. Return to school and return to physical activities is typically gradual. Treatment is best directed by a physician with a background in sports medicine, or an athletic trainer working with a physician. Again, educating the athlete, parent, and coach about the return to play process throughout the recovery period is needed in order to keep “eager” athletes from returning to play too soon.
To help facilitate a smooth recovery after a concussion, a form explaining to the athlete, parent, and coach the signs and symptoms of a concussion, typical treatment for a concussion, and the steps they need to take to return to play, should be provided.
Marco S. Boscolo is currently a high school outreach athletic trainer in a hospital setting and a Kinesmetrics doctoral student at the University of Illinois. Together with Gibson Area Hospital he has developed the ConcussionHub.com website. He has been working professionally as an athletic trainer for 13 years in the high school, collegiate and United States Olympic Training Center settings.