Concussion Management Program Offered for Coaches, Parents
Sports medicine specialists at WellSport, a program of MidMichigan Health, are helping coaches,parents and students throughout the region understand and prepare to meet new legislative concussion management requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 3.8 million concussions occur in the U.S. each year. Concussions in young athletes can have long-term effects if not treated properly. Returning to sports too soon after a concussion can lead to long lasting chronic neurological conditions, sleep problems and long-term cognitive deficits. When a player returns to sports too soon after sustaining a concussion, the brain does not have time to fully rest and heal, and serious side effects can occur.
The new law requires coaches, employees, volunteers and other adults who are involved with youth athletes to participate in concussion awareness training and have a signed statement from each athlete and parent acknowledging that they received educational material. Athletes are immediately removed from play when a concussion is suspected and shall not return until evaluated by appropriate health care professional. The law requires a written clearance from a provider who is trained in the recognition and management of concussions.
MidMichigan’s WellSport program, in conjunction with area school districts, implemented a concussion management program in area schools in 2011. The program incorporates pre-season assessment of athletes which can then be used if an athlete sustains a concussion to assist with decisions about when the athlete can safely return to play. In addition, a side line concussion assessment tool is used to assess the injured athlete on the court or on the field at the time of the injury. Return-to-play protocols guide athletes through the recovery process. A health care provider then evaluates and documents that it is safe for a student to return to contact sports.
“At WellSport, we provide the education component and resources to make it easier for coaches, educators and parents to meet the new requirements,” said WellSport Medical Director and Family Medicine Physician J.T. Pinney, M.D. Dr. Pinney, who is credentialed in sports medicine, has been sharing information and providing tools to help coaches comply with the new regulations throughout the region.
According to the American Academy of Neurology the risk of concussion is greatest in football and rugby, followed by hockey and soccer. The risk of concussion for young women and girls is greatest in soccer and basketball.
When educating coaches, school administrators and parents, Dr. Pinney defines what a concussion is and explains the short and long-term consequences. He helps them understand the testing, assessment and “return-to-play” guidelines and provides online forms and materials to help them comply with the legislative requirements.
WellSport treats athletic injuries for sports enthusiasts of all ages. Services also include performance enhancement, nutrition evaluation for athletes and injury prevention. Dr. Pinney and WellSport physician Matthew Taylor, M.D., help patients of all ages use “exercise as medicine” to maximize their overall health and performance and minimize the effects of any illness or injury.
Resources for concussion education and assessment are on the WellSport website at www.midmichigan.org/wellsport. Those interested in more information about concussion management may call WellSport at (989) 837-9350.