FPYC POLICIES AND PROCEDURES REGARDING THE IDENTIFICATION AND HANDLING OF SUSPECTED CONCUSSIONS IN YOUTH ATHLETES
A concussion is a brain injury that is characterized by an onset of impairment of cognitive and/or physical functioning, and is caused by a blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that causes a sudden jarring of the head (i.e., a helmet to the head, being knocked to the ground). A concussion can occur with or without a loss of consciousness, and proper management is essential to the immediate safety and long-term future of the injured individual. A concussion can be difficult to diagnose, and failing to recognize the signs and symptoms in a timely fashion can have dire consequences.
Most athletes who experience a concussion can recover completely as long as they do not return to play prematurely. The effects of repeated concussions can be cumulative, and after a concussion, there is a period in which the brain is particularly vulnerable to further injury. If an athlete sustains a second concussion during this period, the risk of permanent brain injury increases significantly and the consequences of a seemingly mild second concussion can be very severe, and even result in death (i.e., “second impact syndrome”).
Appropriate licensed health care provider means a physician, physician assistant, osteopath or athletic trainer licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine; a neuropsychologist licensed by the Board of Psychology; or a nurse practitioner licensed by the Virginia State Board of Nursing.
Return to play means participate in a non-medically supervised practice or athletic competition.
I. In order to participate in any FPYC sports activity, each youth athlete and the youth athlete’s parent or guardian shall review and acknowledge, on an annual basis, the current FPYC Concussion Information Statement. Youth athletes and their parents/guardians also are encouraged to review information on concussions provided by the Concussion Education Online Verification Program of the Fairfax County Public Schools (if accessible) or substantially equivalent program (i.e., CDC’s free online program available at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/online_training.html. After having reviewed such materials describing the short- and long-term health effects of concussions, each youth athlete and the youth athlete’s parent or guardian shall sign a statement acknowledging receipt and review of the FPYC Concussion Information Statement; and
II. In order to participate in any FPYC sports activity, each coach, assistant coach, and athletic trainer shall review on an annual basis, information on concussions provided by that adult volunteer’s youth sport association, if applicable, or a substantially equivalent program for coaches (i.e., CDC’s http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/online_training.html).
III. A youth athlete suspected by that youth athlete’s coach, athletic trainer, referee or other FPYC adult volunteer of sustaining a concussion or brain injury in a practice or game shall be removed from the activity at that time. A youth athlete who has been removed from play, evaluated, and suspected to have a concussion or brain injury shall not return to play that same day nor until (i) evaluated by an appropriate licensed health care provider (as defined below) and (ii) in receipt of written clearance to return to play from such licensed health care provider.
IV. Protocol for return to play
A. No member of a youth athletic team shall participate in any athletic event or practice the same day he or she is injured and:
1. exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors attributable to a concussion; or
2. has been diagnosed with a concussion.
B. No member of a youth athletic team shall return to participate in a youth sports event or training on the days after he/she experiences a concussion unless all of the following conditions have been met:
1. the youth no longer exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion, at rest or with exertion;
2. the youth is asymptomatic during, or following periods of supervised exercise that is gradually intensifying; and
3. the youth receives a written medical release from a licensed health care provider.
The Zurich Consensus Statement (November 2008) return to play guidelines and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Concussion Guidelines (August 2010), are available online to assist healthcare providers, student athletes and their families, and school divisions, as needed.
V. Helmet replacement and reconditions policies and procedures
A. Helmets must be certified for the applicable sport (i.e., National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment “NOCSAE”) by the manufacturer at the time of purchase.
B. Reconditioned helmets, when applicable, must be recertified by the reconditioner.
VI. Training required for personnel and volunteers
A. FPYC shall ensure that all FPYC coaches, assistant coaches and athletic trainers receive current training annually on:
1. how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion;
2. strategies to reduce the risk of concussions;
3. how to seek proper medical treatment for a person suspected of having a concussion; and
4. when the youth athlete may safely return to the event or training.
B. The FPYC concussion policy management team shall ensure training is current and consistent with best practice protocols.
C. FPYC shall maintain a tracking system to document compliance with the annual training requirement.
D. Annual training on concussion management shall use a reputable program such as, but not limited to, the following:
1. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) tools for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, athletes, and health care professionals provide important information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion, and are available at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/online_training.html. These include Heads Up to Schools: Know Your Concussion ABCs; Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports; and Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports.
2. The National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) online coach education course – Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know. This CDC-endorsed program provides a guide to understanding, recognizing and properly managing concussions in high school sports. It is available at www.nfhslearn.com.
3. The Oregon Center for Applied Science (ORCAS) ACTive® course, an online training and certification program that gives sports coaches the tools and information to protect players from sports concussions. Available at http://activecoach.orcasinc.com/, ACTive® is funded by the National Institutes of Health, developed by leading researchers, and validated in a clinical trial.
4. Sports specific programs (see your sports director to see if there is a program specifically applicable to your sport).