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Franklin Regional board scheduled to vote on concussion policy

| Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 7:14 p.m.

Franklin Regional school directors will likely vote next month on a formal athletic concussion policy, though it won't change much about how the district handles the injury.

The new policy was read at the board meeting May 20. A formal vote is scheduled for next month.

The Safety in Youth Sports Act, which went into effect in Pennsylvania in July 2012, requires school districts to review and revise safety policies related to concussions and traumatic brain injuries in athletes. Franklin Regional athletic trainer Jim Rossi said while the district doesn't currently have a policy on concussions, an informal one already exists.

“Is it really going to change anything that we do from a day-to-day standpoint? Not really,” Rossi said. “It's things that we've done for the last few years anyhow. It's just that now from a school district standpoint, there is a policy in place that says this is what we do in the event of a student (getting) a concussion and here's the criteria that they have to go over or pass before getting back on the field of play.”

Under the proposed policy, any student who exhibits signs or symptoms of a concussion or other traumatic brain injury while participating in an athletic activity will be removed by a coach immediately.

“If they have X, Y and Z symptoms, I think most prudent medical people would err on the side of caution, especially at the high school level,” Rossi said.

The student is not permitted to return to action until he or she is cleared by an “appropriate medical professional,” which includes licensed physicians, licensed or certified health care professionals or a licensed neuropsychologist. Clearance must be given in writing.

Rossi said the proposed district policy closely follows the Safety in Youth Sports Act.

“They almost mirror each other,” he said.

Additionally, coaches must complete a concussion management certification training course offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Federation of State High School Associations or another provider approved by the Department of Health each year before coaching a sport.

Students and their parents/guardians must review the Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury Information Sheet each year and confirm their review by signature, and the district has the potential to hold an informational meeting about concussions and other head injuries before each season.

Rossi said Franklin Regional currently administers the ImPACT Test every other year to establish a baseline of brain functionality for all athletes. When an athlete suffers a potential head injury, baseline testing can help to determine when he or she can return to action.

“Once you establish a baseline, the majority of testing after that — if there is any testing after that — it's mainly in the event that something's happened,” Rossi said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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