Tag Archives: evaluation

NHL, NHLPA Bolster Concussion-evaluation Process, Amplifies Use of Spotters

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have amended the spotter program in the NHL Concussion Evaluation and Management Protocol to guarantee the inclusion of concussion spotters employed and trained by the League at every game in an attempt to further strengthen the program.

“The spotter program is not new, it has been in existence as part of our Concussion Protocol for some time now; the thing that is changing is how we are allowing clubs to deal with the responsibility,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “By introducing League-employed-and-trained spotters, we are simply providing our clubs with another alternative to adequately and properly execute the spotter responsibility.”

As has been the case under the protocol, each team maintains the right to designate its own concussion spotter for each game. In such cases, the team’s concussion spotter will be considered the on-duty spotter for that game. However, the NHL has designated a network of people, two at each arena, to serve as League-designated spotters.

A team can elect to have the League-designated spotter serve as the on-duty spotter for any game. To do so, the supervisor of the NHL off-ice officials in the arena must be notified at least one hour prior to the game.

Otherwise, the League-designated spotter at that game will log incidents of players exhibiting one or more visible signs of a concussion, regardless of whether the player receives medical attention of any kind. The information logged by the League’s concussion spotters, regardless of whether they are on team duty for a game, must be sent back to the NHL by the first of each month.

The spotters in the League-designated network, who receive training from the League in how to identify signs of a concussion, were chosen from a list of NHL off-ice officials at each arena.

There will be one League-designated spotter at each game, and that spotter will not serve as an official in any other capacity for that game.

“Most clubs so far have indicated a preference to continue with a club-spotter approach, but certainly there will be situations where a club will opt to utilize the League spotter,” Daly said. “All of the designations must be made before each game so there is no confusion as to who will be performing the active-spotter duties in a particular game.”

Daly said the role of the spotter is to identify and flag incidents that have led to players on the ice demonstrating visible signs of a concussion.

The spotter, who is expected to sit in the press box, has a two-way radio in order to communicate what he or she has seen with the training staff on the bench to properly notify a team of a player demonstrating possible signs of a concussion.

Daly said the responsibilities of diagnosing concussions or medically determining if a player can return to play belong to the medical professionals employed by the team in question.

“Depending on the nature of what is reported to him, the trainer has the next call on whether the player needs to be removed for evaluation,” Daly said.

The process of logging visible signs of concussions and relaying that information back to the NHL has been put into place for this season to help the League understand what is being observed in a game and what is being flagged, Daly said.

“From that information, determinations can be made as to how the spotter program is functioning and whether it is doing what we designed it to do,” Daly said.

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American Athletic Conference Announces New Concussion Policy

The athletic directors of the American Athletic Conference unanimously approved adoption of a new Concussion Management Policy this week at their annual meeting in Key Biscayne, Florida. The policy will take effect at the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year, and will be applied to student-athletes competing in all 21 sports sponsored by the Conference.

The current policy was crafted by a panel of experts in their fields from across The American, including sports medicine physicians, certified athletic trainers, head coaches in football, men’s and women’s soccer, and athletic administrators.

“This policy was developed to serve the best interests of student-athlete welfare,” said Commissioner Mike Aresco.  “We asked a group of extremely knowledgeable, well-respected and capable experts to study this issue and draft a policy that creates the best health and safety protocol.  An important objective of the policy is providing for the education of all those who work with our student-athletes in any capacity on the issues surrounding concussions.”

The new American Athletic Conference policy encompasses the protocol in the NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook and includes additional provisions to ensure the student-athlete’s safe and successful return to activity and return to learn.  The additional measures are designed to enlist comprehensive institutional and Conference support. In addition to the staff education requirements, each member institution is required to annually submit to the Conference office an Emergency Action Plan for each campus competition facility. These plans will be in effect for all activities in those facilities, and will apply to home and visiting student-athletes at all times.

Although applicable to all sports, the Concussion Management Policy includes additional football-specific requirements, including annual concussion education for all on-field league officials, a written sideline communication plan for the game day medical staff, and a day-of-game in-person meeting between the on-duty EMTs and team medical staff.

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Tight Budgets Leave High School Coaches to Evaluate Brain Injuries

Far too often, coaches are asked to be “a watchdog against brain injuries.”

That’s the thesis of an article yesterday that explored the predicament for cash-strapped schools across Southern California.

“It falls upon us coaches to be vigilant about what we’re looking at and what we’re looking for,” Paul Knox, a football coach at Susan Miller Dorsey High School in California told the Standard-Examiner newspaper. “We try and make sure we err on the side of caution, if there’s any question we’ll have the player have a medical consultation.”

Mike West, President of the California Athletic Trainers Association, added that: “Unfortunately, not all schools have a certified athletic trainer to assist them in these types of injury evaluations.”

The article went on to cite the California Interscholastic Federation, which notes that only 19 percent of schools across the state employ athletic trainers on a full or part-time basis. “Those schools that don’t, they’re going to rely on coach’s awareness to say you know what, this kid is suffering from something serious as opposed to something that used to be considered getting their bell rung,” West said.

The problem is especially acute at practices.

“Because we don’t have medical supervision, practice is a situation where we have to really as coaches monitor as closely as we can,” Knox told the paper. “If we have any doubt about a head injury, if it looks like a concussion we consider it a concussion.”

To read the full article, visit: http://www.standard.net/stories/2012/12/03/new-law-targets-brain-injuries-high-school-sports

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