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When In Doubt ... Sit Them Out

posted Jan 15, 2019, 10:58 AM by Brenda Williams   [ updated Jan 15, 2019, 10:58 AM ]
Concussions are an unfortunate part of high school athletics. Gone are the days of, “Get back in there!” or “He just got his bell rung; he’ll be fine!” All levels of sports are taking a serious approach to head injuries and the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) is no exception.

The MSHSL has put a lot of time and energy into developing concussion guidelines for athletes. While the entire policy is too much to cover in this article, I would like to share a few highlights.

*All coaches and officials are required to complete concussion education training. Parents and athletes are encouraged to complete the Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports course. The course can be accessed at: www.cdc.gov/headsup

*Any athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion shall be immediately removed from the contest and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health care professional (AHCP).

*If an AHCP determines that an athlete has been concussed, that decision is final and the athlete is removed from competition for the remainder of the day. If an athlete is removed from a game, only an AHCP can authorize a return to play (RTP) following these guidelines:

1) The clearance must be in writing.

2) The clearance may not be on the same day on which the athlete was removed from play.

3) The form must be kept on file in the A.D.’s office

4) A parent cannot authorize the return to play for his/her child, even if the parent is an AHCP.

*Once an AHCP authorizes a medical clearance, RTP should follow a step-by-step process. The RTP protocol is complex. Once the athlete is symptom-free, he/she can enter the RTP protocol. Each step requires a minimum of 24 hours. In the event the athlete has any signs or symptoms that recur, the athlete must go back to the previous step.

1) Light aerobic activity

2) Sport-specific exercise

3) Non-contact training drills

4) Full contact training

5) Game play

Pequot Lakes High School also offers IMPACT testing to all athletes in grades 7-12. The IMPACT test is an online test which establishes a baseline for the athlete. In the event the athlete suffers a concussion, he/she can re-take the test and the results provide a valuable tool for an AHCP to make determinations regarding RTP.

Here’s hoping that we do not see many concussions in 2019 but if we do, know that we have specific guidelines in place to deal with it and the safety our athletes is our main concern.

See you at the games!

-- Marc Helmrichs, Activities Director
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