The Rutgers SAFETY Clinic course was upgraded in July 2011 to include training on sports concussions. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) prepared a free online training program that produces a certificate upon successful completion of the course. All coaches, referees and other officials involved in sports activities should be required to complete at least one of these or a similar course and submit the documentation for the town’s records. Parents should also be encouraged to take a course.
Each year more than 750,000 Americans are injured during recreational sports. Brain injuries cause more deaths than any other sports injury. Concussions are often untreated because few symptoms are visible to casual observers. An athlete may also experience considerable pressure from spectators, teammates and coaches to resume playing. Multiple concussions over time may result in cumulative damage while repeated concussions over a short period may lead to second impact syndrome.
Signs of Brain Injury:
Whenever an individual loses consciousness, the brain has suffered an injury. However, most brain injuries do not involve loss of consciousness. Therefore, it is essential for a coach to keep a player out of a game where there are any signs or symptoms of a concussion.
The term "concussion" is often used in the medical literature as a synonym for a mild traumatic brain injury. If a concussion is managed appropriately, the prognosis for complete recovery is good. The hallmarks of concussion are confusion and amnesia, often without preceding loss of consciousness. The amnesia generally involves loss of memory for the traumatic event but frequently includes loss of recall for events immediately before or after the head trauma. An athlete with amnesia may be unable to recall details about recent plays in the game or details of well-known current events in the news. Amnesia also may be evidenced by an athlete repeatedly asking a question that has already been answered.
NJSA 18A:41.4 et seq. requires that: “A student who participates in an interscholastic sports program or cheerleading program and who sustains or is suspected of having sustained a concussion or other head injury while engaged in a competition or practice shall be immediately removed from the competition or practice. A student-athlete or cheerleader who is removed from competition or practice shall not participate in further sports or cheerleading activity until he is evaluated by a physician or other licensed healthcare provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions, and receives written clearance from a physician trained in the evaluation and management of concussions to return to competition or practice.”
Under this law, the BOE must also require other organizations that use school sports facilities to comply with the District’s policies for the management of concussions and other head injuries. This provision has the effect of extending these requirements to municipal sponsored programs that use school facilities.
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