The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is offering clinical training for clinicians to provide medical clearance for students with sports-related head injuries, according to the Mass.gov website.
The program requires CDC training in conjunction with PowerPoint slides on state regulations, and was developed for physicians, certified athletic trainers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and neuropsychologists. The website provides links for those who wish to participate in the training, which was created by the state’s Injury Prevention and Control Program.
“Recognition and proper response to concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death,” the website stated. “In response to legislation on sports-related head injuries in 2010, the Department of Public Health developed regulations that were promulgated in 2011 and apply to all public middle high schools and other schools subject to the rules of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association with extracurricular sports for grades 6-12.”
In the article, “Sports Related Concussions and Head Injuries” on the Mass.gov website, it states that “medical providers play a critical role in diagnosing, managing and clearing a student athlete diagnosed with a concussion to return to play.” According to the article, medical providers authorized to return a student athlete to return to play after he or she has completed a graduated return to play plan, include a licensed physician, athletic trainer in consultation with a licensed physician, a nurse practitioner in consultation with a licensed physician, a physician assistant under the supervision of a licensed physician, or a neuropsychologist in coordination with the physician managing the student’s recovery.
Through the Heads Up program, the CDC provides patient assessment tools for clinicians to be filled out in a physician’s office or ED. It also provides online concussion training and publications such as “Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture.”
According to the study, “Removal From Play After Concussion and Recovery Time,” by R.J. Elbin, et al, published in September in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal, Pediatrics, an estimated 50% to 70% of concussions go unreported/undetected. It cites several reasons, including the common practice of coaches urging players to play through injuries.
“Athletes who were not removed from play took longer to recover and demonstrated worse neurocognitive and symptom outcomes after a sport-related concussion,” researchers stated in the study. “Removal from play status is a new predictor for protracted recovery and supports consensus guidelines.”
During 2001-2009, an estimated 2,651,581 children ages 19 years and younger were treated annually for sports- and recreation-related injuries, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Approximately 6.5%, or 173,285 of these injuries were TBIs (traumatic brain injuries),” the report stated.
The CDC also reported that “from 2001 to 2009, the rate of ED visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries, rose 57% among children (ages 19 years or younger).”
The epidemic of concussions in school sports and professional sports has been the focus of many sports organizations, including the National Football League which, in September, launched the Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative to drive progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, among other things.
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