- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Using new program on all student athletes
By LAURA DUKES
Calvert County Public Schools has taken new state regulations on student concussions and ramped them up a step further.
The Maryland State Department of Education announced last month that by Aug. 31, all coaches at each school system are to be trained in concussion risk management, which includes removing athletes from playing if suspected concussions are apparent, and recognition of concussion symptoms.
The MSDE regulations also require that school systems implement policies that will ensure that parents and guardians receive information about the nature and risk of brain injuries.
Student athletes also are required to get a medical assessment if there is a suspected concussion or brain injury, and cannot return to play until cleared by a licensed health care professional authorized to provide sports physicals.
CCPS Supervisor of Transportation and Athletics Kevin Hook explained that the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association made these same recommendations for all Maryland high school coaches in 2010.
Hook said that year, all CCPS high school head coaches completed online classes on concussion risk management, which were run by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Hook said the only difference this year is that all high school coaches had to complete the training rather than just the head coaches.
He said the high school athletic departments in Calvert County always have distributed concussion and brain injury information to athletes and their parents.
“It made sense to us; it’s easy,” Hook said.
This school year, Hook explained that CCPS made its own decision to “take things one step forward” by working with Annapolis-based company Complete Neuro Sport, which he said will provide baseline testing for all athletes if a concussion is suspected.
He explained that while the test is self-administered, its technology can tell if a student makes a mistake and sends an email to the athletic director at the student’s school.
The student will then need to retake the test while supervised.
The program also contains athlete registration; concussion awareness education; preseason baseline testing; sideline assessment tools; post-concussion symptom tracking; and cognitive testing, according to the Complete Neuro Sport website.
“The added bonus is the baseline testing. We’re trying to get ahead of it,” Hook said, adding that athletic directors have been explaining the program to students and coaches during preseason meetings.
Huntingtown High School Athletic Director VaShawne Gross said since the program is just as new to the athletic directors as it is to the students, he hopes parents and the community will be patient throughout the fall sports season.
“It’ll take time because we’re all learning the software. During the fall, we’ll be troubleshooting, but by the time we get to the winter and the spring, we should be off and running,” Gross said, continuing that once this happens, “I think it will be great for Calvert County Public Schools.”
“A concussion is serious; some people think like ‘oh you just got your bell rung,’” Gross said.
A similar program, the ImPACT test, was piloted successfully at Calvert High School last year, though Hook was unsure why that company was not ultimately selected for the school system as a whole.
This coming school year, Charles County Public Schools will be implementing the ImPACT test, which is a computerized concussion evaluation system that all student athletes will take prior to the start of the sports seasons.
Calvert High School Athletic Director Brad Chris said the decision not to use ImPACT was ultimately made by the Calvert County Board of Education and CCPS Superintendent Jack Smith.
“I loved it. It was easy to use,” Chris said, continuing that with the program there was a higher number of concussions reported at Calvert High last year.
He said some of the confirmed cases through the test were students who did not initially exhibit concussion symptoms.
Chris said on the reverse side there were some students who displayed concussion symptoms who ended up testing negative.
“It was helpful,” Chris said.
Hook said he was unsure how many student athletes in Calvert County were confirmed to have concussions in the most recent school year, but said the injury was most prevalent in football and girls soccer.
Hook said that nonetheless, the risk of the injury was taken seriously in all sports.
“Montgomery County had a cross country student who had a concussion because they tripped and hit a tree,” he said.