New School Year Brings New Athletic Guidelines

The new school year is well on its way and youth athletics have begun, including for “about 1 million youth between the ages of 6 and 12 [who] play tackle [football].”  However, even though this number may seem high, youth athletic participation has continued its decade-long decline again this year.  Head trauma, specifically concussions, are the major worry.

In response, the CDC has authorized new guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of concussions and other such mild traumatic brain injuries in children. Published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, and referenced by other publications nationwide since, the guidelines encompass over 25 years of research and include, “19 sets of recommendations on the diagnosis, prognosis, and management/treatment of pediatric mTBI that were assigned a level of obligation (i.e., must, should, or may) based on confidence in the evidence.”

Noting the decline in participation and increased parental concern, many states and school districts have updated their guidelines on concussion protocol.  This year, New York State Education Department stated that, “Local boards of education are strongly advised to develop a written concussion management policy.”  In Scarsdale, NY, for example, the school district announced, “the establishment of a Concussion Management Team, training for the Team and appropriate staff, protocol for student evaluation and return to play or activity, accommodations if necessary in academic areas, and a set of procedures that outline the role and responsibilities of all concerned.”  The website of the Central Valley District, NY has a thorough webpage regarding concussion protocol, as “[the] School District recognizes that protecting students from head injuries is one of the most important ways of preventing a concussion.”  (A list of all the webpages dedicated to concussion protocol, and a list of all the concussion protocols that have been recently altered due to increased public concern, is too lengthy to individually recognize.)

* It should also be noted that even with all the negative media coverage and medical concern, many school districts, parents and some publications still see the benefits of organized athletics in a child’s physical and social development.

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