Kansas Schools Emphasize Head Injury Prevention

A new state law designed to prevent or limit the severity of concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in student athletes took effect on July 1, 2011.

The School Sports Head Injury Prevention Act specifically addresses when a student may return to competition after a head injury.

Under the new law, if a school athlete suffers, or is suspected of having suffered, a concussion or head injury during a competition or practice session, the athlete shall be removed immediately from the competition of practice session. Additionally, the injured athlete shall not return to competition or practice until he is evaluated by a health care provider and receives written clearance to return to play or practice.

“It really helps our coaches and our athletic trainers,” said Campus High School Athletic Director Richard Elliott.  “It takes the pressure off them to have to be able to diagnose something they’re not trained in at all.”

While the state law is new, the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) adopted a policy requiring written medical clearance for the 2010-2011 school year. Executive Director Gary Musselman said parents and student athletes are required to read and sign consent forms with detailed information about concussions and warning signs.

Lawmakers and coaches hope the new policies and increased awareness about head injuries lead to fewer long-term effects for student athletes.

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