Concussion Guidelines and Protocol

Concussion Guidelines and Protocol

In July of 2010, Massachusetts passed Senate Bill 2496, commonly known as the "Concussion Law," designed to require schools subject to Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) rules, parents, and athletes to be educated and have procedures in place regarding concussion reporting. While Hillside is not mandated to adhere to the regulations specified in this bill, as we are an independent school not affiliated with MIAA, we recognize the significance of the issue of sports-related concussion and are committed to implementing related safety measures to ensure the health and safety of our students.

Understanding head injuries is still an inexact science; the CDC describes a concussion as a "traumatic brain injury that comes from a blow to the head." Most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness and simply are not as plainly obvious as a bad broken bone or sprain. Eliminating concussions is next to impossible and, particularly in contact sports, injuries of all sorts are inevitable. That makes recognizing head injuries, treating them, and ensuring an athlete is fully healed before he returns to the field absolutely critical.

According to the recommendations of leading healthcare professionals in the field of sports-related concussion[1], concussion should be suspected in the presence of any one or more of the following:

  • symptoms (such as headache, nausea, dizziness), or
  • physical signs (such as unsteadiness), or
  • impaired brain function (such as confusion), or
  • abnormal behavior(such as loss of consciousness, nausea, headache, dizziness, confusion, or balance problems)

Any athlete with a suspected concussion shall be immediately REMOVED FROM PLAY and medically assessed.

Hillside Concussion Protocol

  1. All Hillside coaches will be provided with concussion education via the CDC Head’s Up Concussion Guide for Coaches and the NFHS Concussion in Sports - What You Need to Know online training to ensure that signs and symptoms of student concussion are recognized and promptly reported to appropriate medical personnel.
  2. All Hillside students will be provided with concussion education via CDC Heads Up Concussion Guide for Athletes.
  3. All students will take ImPACT baseline testing at the beginning of the school year prior to participation in athletics. ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), the most widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system, is utilized to provide useful information to assist qualified practitioners in making sound return to play decisions following concussions.
  4. Any athlete suspected of having a concussion shall be immediately removed from participation in athletics and shall be evaluated by a school nurse or other appropriate healthcare professional that day.
  5. Students suspected of having a concussion must also complete a post-concussion ImPACT test with the school nurse prior to returning to play.
  6. Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be medically cleared by a medical doctor (including, but not limited to, a Primary Care Physician, Orthopedic Physician, Neurosurgeon, or Medical Doctor) prior to resuming participation in any practice or competition. Hillside’s Post Sports-Related Head Injury Medical Clearance and Authorization Form must be completed by the medical doctor as part of the medical clearance process and before the student is permitted to return to play. The formulation of a gradual return to play protocol should be a part of the medical clearance, if deemed necessary.
  7. Gradual return to play protocol monitoring and guidance will be provided by a school nurse, in collaboration with the student’s medical doctor, and with the assistance of the Athletic Director.
  8. If special accommodations need to be established within the classroom, those needs will be addressed at the request of the physician, through the health center and in conjunction with the Chief Academic Officer.
  9. These guidelines will be applied to all practices, games, and scrimmages.

NOTE: Athletes with continued concussion symptoms are at significant risk for recurrent, cumulative, and even catastrophic consequences of a second concussive injury. Such risks are minimized if the athlete is allowed time to recover from the concussion and return to play decisions are carefully made. No athlete should return to sports or other at-risk participation when symptoms of a concussion are present and recovery is ongoing.

Student/Parent Responsibilities

  1. All student-athletes and their parents are required to review Hillside’s Concussion Guidelines and the Concussion Fact Sheet.
  2. All parents are required to complete a Pre-Participation Head Injury/Concussion Reporting Form.
  3. All students are required to complete a baseline impact test before participation in athletics.
  4. If a student has been referred to a physician by the school, communication between the physician and school nurse is required prior to returning to participation in athletics.

[1] The recommendations referenced were made by health professionals in attendance at the International Consensus Meeting on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, Switzerland in November 2008, from which an outcome paper was developed and published in the May 2009 issues of: Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Journal of Athletic Training, Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport, Neurosurgery, and Journal of Clinical Sports Medicine.