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Carthage district’s concussion policy focuses on education

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CARTHAGE — The new Carthage Central School District concussion policy looks to educate in addition to keeping players safe.

“More educated people are more safe,” athletics director Stephen J. Nolan said.

Mr. Nolan served on a concussion management team in Division II sports.

The school adopted a concussion policy during the Board of Education meeting Dec. 17.

Under the new policy, staff members who oversee physical activity and health matters — such as physical education teachers, coaches and nurses — will be trained to identify signs of a concussion.

“Athletes that got hurt would fill out an accident form, be evaluated by coaches and then parents would make the decision of whether to see a doctor or not,” Mr. Nolan said of the school’s previous actions for the traumatic brain injury.

A concussion management team consisting of the school health office, Mr. Nolan and the team’s coach will determine when the concussed student will be allowed to return to play. Recovery time will vary for each student.

The policy expects the concussion management team to “review and/or design an appropriate plan for the student while he/she is recovering.”

The team will regulate the student’s academic recovery with a return-to-school protocol. The policy states, “The CMT members pertinent to the individual student’s academic needs will be contacted and notified of their medical status and any restrictions.” This regulation will continue until the student has been released by a physician.

The adoption of this policy is in response to the New York state Concussion Management and Awareness Act.

According to the state Department of Health website, an estimated 4,000 students younger than 20 have been treated for sports-related traumatic brain injuries each year. The campaign pitches “When in doubt ... take them out!”

Mr. Nolan said he is unaware of any concussion troubles since he started in August, but the school prefers to “err on the side of caution.”

Concussions usually are caused by a blow to the head. Signs of a concussion include a prolonged headache, nausea or vomiting, ringing in ears and, in severe cases, memory loss. Popular speculation is that some athletes have died as a result of suffering more than one concussion in a short time frame.

Beginning in the spring, parents will be notified of the policy at start-of-the-season meetings. For more information or to view the policy, visit www.carthagecsd.org/athletics.cfm.

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