Policy JJIF: Athletic Concussion Policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide information and standardizedprocedures for persons involved in the prevention, training managementand return to activity decisions regarding students who incur headinjuries while involved in extracurricular athletic activities*including, but not limited to, interscholastic sports, in order toprotect their health and safety as required by Massachusetts law andregulations. The requirements of the law apply to all public middle andhigh schools, however configured, serving grades six through high schoolgraduation. In addition to any training required by law, the followingpersons shall complete one of the head injury safety training programsapproved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) as foundon its website: coaches; certified athletic trainers; trainers;volunteers; school and team physicians; school nurses; athleticdirectors; directors responsible for a school marching band; employeesor volunteers; and students who participate in an extracurricularactivity and their parents.

Upon the adoption of this policy by the School Committee, theSuperintendent shall ensure that DPH receives an affirmation on schooldistrict letterhead that the district has developed policies and theSchool Committee has adopted a final policy in accordance with law. Thisaffirmation shall be updated by September 30, 2013 and every two yearsthereafter upon review or revision of its policies.

The Superintendent shall maintain or cause to be maintained completeand accurate records of the district’s compliance with the requirementsof the Concussion Law, and shall maintain the following records forthree years or, at a minimum, until the student graduates, unless stateor federal law requires a longer retention period:

  • Verifications of completion of annual training and receipt of materials;
  • DPH Pre-participation forms and receipt of materials; 
  • DPH Report of Head Injury Forms, or school based equivalents; 
  • DPH Medical Clearance and Authorization Forms, or school based equivalents;
  • Graduated reentry plans for return to full academic and extracurricular athletic activities.
  • This policy also applies to volunteers who assist withextracurricular athletic activities. Such volunteers shall not be liablefor civil damages arising out of any act or omission relating to therequirements of law, unless such volunteer is willfully or intentionallynegligent in his act or omission.

    Most student athletes who sustain a concussion can fully recover aslong as their brain has time to heal before sustaining another hit;however, relying only on an athlete’s self-report of symptoms todetermine injury recovery is inadequate as many high school athletes arenot aware of the signs and symptoms or the severity concussive injuriespose, or they may feel pressure from coaches, parents, and/or teammatesto return to play as quickly as possible. One or more of these factorswill likely result in under-diagnosing the injury and a premature returnto play. Massachusetts General Laws and Department of Public Healthregulations make it imperative to accurately assess and treat studentathletes when concussions are suspected.

    Student athletes who receive concussions may appear to be “fine” onthe outside, when in actuality they have a brain injury and are not ableto return to play. Incurring a second concussion can prove to bedevastating to a student athlete. Research has shown that youngconcussed athletes who return to play before their brain has healed arehighly vulnerable to more prolonged post-concussion syndrome or, in rarecases, a catastrophic neurological injury known as Second ImpactSyndrome.

    The following protocol will discuss and outline what a concussion is,the mechanism of injury, signs and symptoms, management and return toplay requirements, as well as information on Second Impact Syndrome andpast concussion syndrome. Lastly, this policy will discuss theimportance of education for our athletes, coaches and parents and otherpersons required by law.

    This protocol should be reviewed on a yearly basis with all staff todiscuss the procedures to be followed to manage sports-relatedconcussions. This protocol will also be reviewed on a yearly basis bythe athletic department as well as by nursing staff. Any changes in thisdocument will be approved by the school committee and given to athleticstaff, including coaches and other school personnel in writing. Anaccurate synopsis of this policy shall be placed in the student andfaculty handbooks.

    LEGAL REF:

    MGL 111:222 , 105 CMR 201.000
     

    Region Voted to Approve: 8/28/12
    Amherst Voted to Approve:
    Pelham Voted to Approve:
     

     

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    * Extracurricular Athletic Activity means an organized school sponsoredathletic activity generally occurring outside of school instructionalhours under the direction of a coach, athletic director or marching bandleader including, but not limited to, Alpine and Nordic skiing andsnowboarding, baseball, basketball, cheer leading, cross country track,fencing, field hockey, football, golf, gymnastics, horseback riding, icehockey, lacrosse, marching band, rifle, rugby, soccer, skating,softball, squash, swimming and diving, tennis, track (indoor andoutdoor), ultimate frisbee, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling. Allinterscholastic athletics are deemed to be extracurricular athleticactivities.