Concussion Awareness and Safety
In 2011 the NC State Legislature passed the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act. This law included several important requirements.
- Schools must provide information to parents, athletes, and coaches about concussions.
- An established return to play (RTP) protocol must be used in all cases involving a concussion.
- Schools must develop an emergency action plan.
For more information about the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act and its requirements, click http://www.nchsaa.org/health-and-safety/gfeller-waller-concussion-awareness-act
Student athletes are required to have a medical examination annually for participation in athletics. In addition to the physical exam form, students and parents are also required to complete the concussion awareness documents required by the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act.
Heat Stress in Athletes and Concussion Prevention
& Injury Management
From the Safer Schools Consulting Center & the Safety Advantage Network
It has been another record breaking hot summer with temperatures rising above 100 degrees for multiple days at a time. Given these recent high temperatures, now is a good time to caution coaches, trainers, and athletic directors on the dangers of athletes training in the late, hot, summer months. Montgomery Insurance ® provides information and safety guidelines on the topic of heat stress in athletes. As a result of the hot summer last year and the fatalities to athletes caused by heat stress, a number of states have created heat acclimation guidelines for high school. The University of Connecticut provides some helpful information on the status of state guidelines and the importance of heat acclimatization, including a map that will allow you to view state-by-state summaries.
The National Athletic Trainers' Association has drafted a fact sheet of Preseason Heat-Acclimatization Guidelines for Secondary School Athletics. It concludes that a 14-day heat-acclimatization period be included into the start of you training program.
Recommendations Listed in the NATA Heat-Acclimatization Guidelines:
1. During the first five days of the heat-acclimatization process, athletes may not participate in more than one practice per day.
2. If a practice is interrupted by inclement weather or heat restrictions, the practice should recommence once conditions are deemed safe, but total practice time should not exceed three hours per day.
3.A one-hour maximum walk-through is permitted during the first five days of the heat-acclimatization period; however, a three-hour recovery period should be inserted between the practice and walk-through (or vice versa).
4.During the first two days of the heat-acclimatization period, in sports requiring helmets or shoulder pads, a helmet should be the only protective equipment permitted (goalies, as in the case of field hockey and related sports, should not wear full protective gear or perform activities that would require protective equipment). During days three through five, only helmets and shoulder pads should be worn. Beginning on day six, all protective equipment may be worn and full contact may begin.
5. Beginning no earlier than the sixth day and continuing through the 14th day, double-practice days must be followed by a single-practice day. On single-practice days, one walk-through is permitted, but it must be separated from the practice by at least three hours of continuous rest. When a double-practice day is followed by a rest day, another double-practice day is permitted after the rest day.
6. On a double-practice day, neither practice's duration should exceed three hours total, and student-athletes should not participate in more than five total hours of practice. Warm-up, stretching, cool-down, walk-through, conditioning and weight-room activities are included as part of the practice time. The two practices should be separated by at least three continuous hours in a cool environment.
7. Because the risk of exertional heat illnesses during the pre-season heat-acclimatization period is high, the consensus statement strongly recommends that an athletic trainer be on site before, during and after all practices.
Key Insights: When an athlete undergoes a proper heat-acclimatization program, the body's response to exercise and heat is enhanced, while athletes not following a proper program face measurable risks for heat illness. A proper plan in secondary school athletic programs is essential to minimize these risks.
For additional information on this topic visit any of the web sites listed below:
• The Academy of Pediatrics' statement on Heat Stress & Exercising Children and Adolescents
• The National Athletic Trainers' Association
• National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Exertional Heat Illnesses
• National Federation of State High School Associations position statement on Heat Acclimation
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that as many as 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the United States each year.
Schools and youth services organizations should have a concussion injury awareness and management program in place.
The program should encompass the following areas:
A. A prevention policy on concussion injuries for athletes that also includes an on-going educational
component for athletes, coaches and parents.
B. The use of appropriate, properly maintained, safe and well-fitted equipment.
C. Proper preparedness for on-field recognition and timely medical management of a concussion
D. Timely and complete formal notification to parents/guardians to assist in home care, monitoring
and management of deteriorating signs and symptoms.
E. Adequate Return to Play (RTP) protocols.
More information on ways for your school to address concussion prevention and injury management can be found in the document on Concussions in Youth Sports.
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