From the moment an athlete suffers a head injury, athletic trainers initiate a series of protocols to ensure an athlete’s safe return-to-play.
The testing and management of concussion cases has created a substantial database of knowledge and statistics regarding sports-related concussions.
- At the moment of injury, the attending athletic trainer triages and implements the concussion protocol.
- The minimum out-of-contact play for high school athletes is seven days.
- The injured athlete is referred to a physician that specializes in concussion management.
- A physician works with the athletic trainer and school to provide any necessary school and activity accommodations for the athlete during recovery (including 504 and IEPs).
- The physician will refer the athlete to other medical professionals (including a neuropsychologist, physical therapist, speech therapist, and optometrist) for additional treatment when necessary.
- Assess for return-to-play when asymptomatic, school attendance is without accommodation, and BESS and ImPACT scores have normalized.
- The physician works with the athletic trainer on return-to-play progression.
- Educate the athlete on risks of Second Impact Syndrome. If the athlete has had more than one concussion, evaluation should include parents for return-to-play decisions.
Return to Learn
Each child and each brain injury is different. Most students will recover fully in days or weeks, but some might take longer to heal. And while not every child will need to take it easy with school after experiencing a concussion, some, however, will require a more careful reintroduction into academic life.
Taxing the brain with too much activity can impede or prolong recovery. It’s important to discuss your options with your healthcare provider, as all steps in the academic protocol must be completed before a student-athlete is ready to proceed to a return-to-play protocol.
Return to Play
A player who is symptom-free with both mental and physical exertion, tests within the expected range for cognition (ImPACT) and balance testing, and performs at typical levels in school is ready to return to play. Remember: “When in doubt, sit it out.”
Did You Know?
6% annual Central Oregon recurrent concussion rate vs. 9% annual NCAA recurrent concussion rate.