IHSA steps up efforts on concussions

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

A hot topic lately in the world of college and professional football is how to deal with players with concussions and when they should be allowed to return.

With the debate ongoing, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), in accordance with the National Federation of State High School (NFHS) Associations, has ramped up their efforts to help young athletes who may have a concussion.

“The new concussion guidelines drew a great deal of attention, both in Illinois and nationally, as the high school seasons began in August,” IHSA Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson recently said through a press release. “We want to keep this important issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

In the past, a player had to lose consciousness for an official to be able to take a player out of a game.

The new rule allows for that to happen with any player who seems to be showing any signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion. If identified, the player must be removed from the game immediately, and is not allowed to return until he or she has been cleared by a medical professional.

In addition to the guidelines set out by the NFHS, the IHSA is being proactive by stressing further measures to ensure a player’s safety. The IHSA is asking schools to internally identify their medical professional who are allowed to clear an athlete’s return to prevent parents and fans from influencing a decision.

“We do what we always do when a player suffers a hit like that,” Boylan coach Dan Appino said. “Get him to our trainer and team physician and let them decide if or when he should return.”

Appino is happy, as all coaches are, that the IHSA has stepped up to try to help student athletes from further harm after a concussion. It is a situation that hits close to home for the Titans coach.

“I am happy they are trying to more closely monitor and provide direction to the issue,” he said. “My own career playing football ended after I suffered a third concussion, and as my family will attest, years afterwards, I still show the after-effects of those collisions.”

Many reference materials are available for those who want to learn more about the efforts on concussion education. The NFHS has a course titled “Concussions In Sports: What You Need To Know” on their website, nfhslearn.com. The IHSA also offers information at www.ihsa.org/initiatives/sportsmedicine/index.htm.

From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue

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