Although most common in sports such as football, soccer, and basketball, concussion or mild TBI can occur in any sport or physical activity (for example, in a physical education class). Importantly, loss of consciousness is not required to have a concussion; in fact, less than 10 percent of athletes with concussion are “knocked out.”
Young athletes appear to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of concussion. They are more likely than older athletes to experience problems after concussion and often take longer to recover. Teenagers also appear to be more prone to a second injury to the brain that occurs while the brain is still healing from an initial concussion. This second impact can result in long-term impairment or even death. The importance of proper recognition and management of concussed young athletes cannot be over-emphasized.
It is most effective to have a school-based team coordinate implementation of a school’s concussion management policy. Ideally, a school’s Concussion Management Team would include all stakeholders involved in the medical, athletic, and academic aspects of the concussion management process: a school administrator, athletic director, certified athletic trainer, school nurse, school psychologist, counselor, teachers, and coach.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a State concussion awareness law was passed (Chapter 166). This Act calls for educating athletes, parents and coaches on the dangers of concussions and how to recognize the signs and symptoms. The Act requires documentation of past student’s head injuries, removal of student from play/practice after suspected concussion and medical clearance for “return to play”.
Massachusetts also passed a regulation, Head Injuries & Concussions in Extracurricular Athletic Activities (105 CMR 201.00), geared towards protecting students from repeated head injuries while participating in School Sports programs. These regulations apply to Public Middle & High Schools grades 6-12 and to all schools subject to MIAA rules- do not apply to Private, Elementary and Pre-K schools.
A “Team” approach was developed to evaluate, recognize, monitor and treat students before and after a head injury. This is accomplished by annual testing (pre-concussion baseline tests such as, ImPACT), school policies, exclusion from play, medical clearance and data collection.
The statute does not apply to local football, lacrosse, little league baseball, Town recreation or club sports. This is why the School RN Notification Program is so important. The School RN can add an extra layer to the care and observation of your child. Your Pediatrician and School RN can work together in implementing a care plan.