The Concussion Management and Awareness Act
- Requires coaches, physical education teachers, nurses and athletic trainers to complete courses related to recognizing the symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury, and monitoring and seeking proper medical treatment for pupils who suffer one;
- Requires the Department of Education to post its information on their websites related to mild traumatic brain injuries;
- Requires schools to include information regarding mild traumatic braining injuries in an permission form for participation in any interscholastic sport, and on their websites;
- Requires the immediate removal from athletic activities of any pupil “believed to have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, and;
- Authorizes each school district to establish a concussion management team.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can occur from a fall, impact to the body, or collision that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. Even a “ding” or “getting your bell rung” can result in a concussion and should be evaluated by a health care professional.
Concussions can happen in any sport, but most often occur in contact sports, such as football, rugby, or ice hockey. Every year, about 4,000 New York children age 19 and younger are treated at hospitals for sports-related TBIs. Concussions are often treated elsewhere, such as by a school nurse or primary care physician.
How do I Recognize a Possible Concussion?
If you observe the following two things, the athlete may have a concussion:
A forceful blow to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head and any change in the athlete’s behavior, thinking, or physical functioning.
Here are signs and symptoms of a concussion observed by a coach:
- Dazed or stunned
- Confusion about game assignment, position, score, and/or opponent
- Forgets sports plays
- Clumsy movement
- Delayed response to questions
- Loss of consciousness (even briefly)
- Behavior or personality changes
- Inability to recall events before or after a hit or fall
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Double or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory loss
- Doesn’t “feel right”
What Should I Do if I Suspect a Concussion?
If an athlete experiences any of the above signs or symptoms after a bump or blow to the head, be sure you take these precautions:
- Remove the athlete from play immediately. Look for the signs and symptoms of a concussion. If the athlete experiences any of the signs or symptoms, he or she should not be allowed to return to play. When in doubt, sit the athlete out of play.
- Ensure that the athlete is immediately evaluated by a health care professional. Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury for yourself. You can’t see a concussion and some athletes may not experience and/or report symptoms until hours or days after the injury.
- Notify the athlete’s parents or caregivers about the possible concussion and give them the fact sheet on concussions. Be sure they know that the athlete should be seen by a health care professional who is experienced in evaluating concussions.
- Permit the athlete to return to play only after he or she is symptom-free for at least 24 hours and has been evaluated and cleared by a licensed physician.* A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain heals from a previous concussion can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. Delaying an athlete’s return to play until he or she receives appropriate medical evaluation can help prevent further problems in the future.
How Can I Help Prevent Concussions?
As a coach, you play a vital role in preventing concussions among athletes. And when an athlete does experience a concussion you can protect against further injury with a quick and effective response. Here are steps you can take to keep your athletes safe:
- Get trained! Learn how to recognize, monitor, and respond appropriately to athletes who sustain a concussion.
- Educate athletes and their parents and caregivers about concussions. Talk with them about prevention as well as the dangers and potential long-term consequences of concussions.
- Make safety your team’s No. 1 priority. Ensure all athletes wear the right protective equipment for their sport (like helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment must fit properly, be in good condition, and be worn consistently and correctly. Teach athletes safe playing techniques and encourage them to follow the rules of the game.
- Teach athletes and parents that it’s not safe to play with a concussion. Every athlete needs to know how crucial it is to let their coach, athletic trainer, or parent know if they have hit their head or have symptoms of a head injury – even if it means stopping play. Never ignore a head injury, no matter how minor.
- Prevent possible long-term problems. Delaying athletes’ return to play until they receive appropriate medical evaluation can help prevent problems in the future.
If an athlete has, or is suspected of having, a concussion, do the following:
- IMMEDIATELY remove the athlete from play.
- NOTIFY the athlete’s parent/guardian about the known or possible concussion.
- DO NOT try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself. Ensure that the athlete is evaluated by a health care professional.
- ONLY allow the athlete to return to play once he or she has been symptom-free for at least 24 hours and evaluated and cleared by a licensed physician.
How Can I Help Prevent Concussions?
Remember, every sport is different, but here are some general steps you can take to prevent concussions:
- Make sure your child wears the right protective equipment for their sport (like helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment must fit properly, be in good condition, and be worn consistently and correctly.
- Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
- Ensure your child follows their coach’s rules for safety and the rules of the sport.
- Encourage your child to practice good sportsmanship.
What Should I Do If I Think My Child Has a Concussion?
- Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional will be able to decide how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your child to return to play.
- Keep your child out of play until he or she has been symptom free for at least 24 hours and evaluated and cleared by a licensed physician.* Concussions are serious and can take time to heal. Children who return to play too quickly – while the brain is still healing – risk a greater chance of having a second concussion. Second or later concussions can be very serious and potentially cause permanent brain damage.
- Tell your child’s coach about a recent concussion in any sport. Coaches should know if your child had a recent concussion in any sport. If your child received a concussion in another sport or activity, his or her coach may not know about it unless you tell them.