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A school board in Portsmouth, New Hampshire codified a new concussion policy, which requires, among other things, that the school district distribute head injury and concussion information to all parents and guardians of student-athletes before the first practice or game of a new season.
The policy also requires that the athletic director review any changes in procedures required for concussions and adopt those changes for the upcoming school year, ensuring the district implements the latest accepted practices for handling head injuries.
In addition, the policy states that any time a coach or other official suspects a student athlete has received a concussion, he or she must immediately remove the student from the game. The student will not be able to return to the game or practice on the same day and/or until he or she is evaluated by a health care provider and receives medical clearance. The existing policy requires student athletes to sit a minimum of five days before he or she can return to play, and only then with a signed permission from parents, a doctor, and athletic trainer.
Finally, coaches, including volunteers, must undertake ongoing training as recommended by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, Department of Education and any other relevant organizations.
The Londonberry School District in Londonberry, New Hampshire is considering a policy that would require all student athletes and parents to take a course on concussion prevention and care before the student athletes could participate in athletics.
If approved next month, parents would have to complete a program called “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports,” an online course provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
School Board member Leitha Reilly applauded the board’s decision.
“While it could be laborious for some parents out there and student athletes, I think it’s excellent because we’re not just educating what it is but also how to recognize it and what to do about it rather than just handing them a pamphlet,” she told the media.
Other board members, such as John Robinson, liked the “intent,” but still had reservations.
“We should do everything we can to limit or eliminate the danger of concussions and brain injuries as much as we can,” he reportedly said. “But that being said, as a parent, I’m a little bothered by the idea that the School District is going to tell me that I must complete a training program before my kid can participate in a sports program.”
A local school board member with the Dover School District in New Hampshire suggested earlier this week at a school board meeting that the district discontinue football.
Paul Butler, a retired physician, cited the risk of concussions and their long-term consequences—brain damage, depression and dementia. “I suspect it’s going to take a long time,” he said. “This might be the first volley. It took a long time for people to wear bicycle helmets. It took a long time for people to stop smoking.”
Dover Athletic Director Peter Wotton told the Associated Press that it is wrong to target football. “Any sport is a target, because…any time you put kids in motion—there is an inherent risk to playing sports and taking part in athletics,” he said.