The South Huntington school district is instituting new rules governing the treatment of athletes who may have suffered concussions.
Whitman athletic director James Wright outlined a plan for the South Huntington school board Wednesday night that would involve more training, closer monitoring and a change in thinking about the significance of injuries.
"Bell ringers are concussions. The old school mentality is extinct," Wright said, noting that in the past, an athlete would be returned to a game if he appeared to be okay after a head injury.
"Concussions may not manifest immediately and are cumulative for those who return to play prior to complete recovery," he said. The governing principle for athletes' care is simple, Wright said. "When in doubt, sit 'em out."
He outlined these key points: The safety of the athlete is primary; education and communication is key; coaches/athletes need to be aware; proper training techniques by coaches will be stressed.
Wright said New York will be handing down stricter rules for managing suspected concussions. New Jersey put tougher requirements into effect last week.
The district's concussion management program will include the district physician, orthopedics and neurology experts, ; the assistant superintendent for student services, nurse coordinator, school nurses, athletic trainer and athletic director, with coaches, parents and athletes included in the process.
It also involves the purchase of software testing called ImPACT or Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. ImPACT is designed to measure symptoms, verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time so medical personnel can make proper assessments.
Along with Wright, nurse coordinator Jane Samuels introduced the planned "Standard of Care" based on the proposed bill from state baseline testing of athletes before the season begins and, if a concussion is suspected:
- The New York State Public High School Athletic Association concussion checklist will be completed within 24 hours
- Nurses will forward the completed checklist to a neurology team A retest will be scheduled as needed within 48-72 hours after the original evaluation
- A universal concussion care plan for schoolwork will be introduced.
- Nurses will receive a "return to play" protocol that the athletic trainer will implement and the district physician will provide final clearance.
Wright said that he hopes to have the new system in place in January.
Concussions involving Whitman students:
2007-2008Sport Number football 5 field hockey 2 boys lacrosse 1 girls lacrosse 1 girls soccer 1
2008-2009Sport Number football 2 boys lacrosse 2 girls lacrosse 2 field hockey 1 boys basketball 1 boys soccer 2 girls soccer 1
2009-2010Sport Number football 3 girls basketball 2 girls lacrosse 2 girls soccer 2 boys lacrosse 2 boys soccer 2 dance 1
2010-Sport Number football 2 wrestling 1