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New Concussion Guidelines for Student Athletes

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

New guidelines by the University Interscholastic League (UIL), the governing body of Texas high school athletics, have been established for the 2011-2012 season.

The guidelines are designed to help protect a student athlete who sustains a concussion while participating in a school sport.

Today’s parents, coaches and students are more aware of the dangers of concussions than even a couple of years ago.

Under the new guidelines, no student-athlete that sustains a concussion will be allowed to return to play on the same day. The current guidelines, on the UIL website are:

Following a head injury, an athlete should be returned to practice or a game ONLY if he/she meets ALL of the following criteria.

- Head injury did not result in any loss of consciousness;

- Any “confusion” or altered mental status clears in less than 15 minutes;

- The injured athlete has had no other concussion or significant head injury during the present season;

-The athlete checks out “clear” on mental status, orientation, concentration and memory tasks before and after exertional provocative tests.

The decision to return a student athlete to his or her sport will be determined by a licensed health care provider. The athletes must provide a written clearance, and follow a series of progressive steps back to full participation. If the same student-athlete suffers more concussions, he or she will require further medical evaluation by a licensed health care professional.

“Safety is always first and foremost in any athletic competition that we have as far as UIL or any competition, at any level, for the students involved,” said Cliff Odenwald, UIL’s athletics director.

“Honestly, I think they just put in writing what’s already practiced,” Conroe ISD Athletics Director Danny Long said. “Especially at the 5A level, there’s so many teams that the doctors are already on the sidelines both home and away.

Preventing concussions has recently become a main focus in athletics, especially in the game of football.

Long said the emphasis must be on coaching technique to help prevent such injuries.

“Over the last 30 years this game has really gotten to a point where the athletes are faster and stronger, the collisions are greater even at the lowest of levels,” he said. “Anytime you take a human being and run them in one direction and another human being and run them in the other direction, it’s a violent sport.

“It has to be taught properly and do what you can to keep the face up and keep the neck and head out of contact as much as you possibly can. But it’s an impossible task to prevent everything.”

The proposed legislation also has received support from the NFL . On May 21, 2010, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, urging him to support legislation that would better protect high school athletes by mandating stricter regulations regarding concussions.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates there may be as many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions that occur in the United States each year.

“We believe that sports and political leaders can help raise awareness of these dangerous injuries and better ensure that they are treated in the proper and most effective way,” Goodell said in his letter.

Other rule changes include allowing intra-school football scrimmages to be scheduled after six days of contact practices, instead of seven; allowing all players to participate in the team playoff in golf; and allowing three games to be substituted in place of a tournament in baseball and softball.

The new measure will take effect August 01, 2011.

We hope hope other states follow suit to protect young athletes.

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