IHSA establishes new concussion guidelines

The Illinois High School Association implemented a new policy outlining return to play guidelines for student-athletes who have been diagnosed with a concussion.

The new policy reads: “In cases when an athlete is not cleared to return to play the same day as he/she is removed from a contest following a possible head injury (i.e., concussion), the athlete shall not return to play or practice until the athlete is evaluated by and receives written clearance from a licensed health care provider to return to play.

"For the purposes of this policy, licensed health care providers consist of physicians licensed to practice medicine in all its branches in Illinois and certified athletic trainers working in conjunction with physicians licensed to practice medicine in all its branches in Illinois.”

IHSA Associate Executive Director and Sports Medicine Chair Kurt Gibson said the new policy will be a benefit to the health of student-athletes.

“The current concussion policy language only indicates what must be done for a student-athlete to return to a contest after being removed for a concussion or suspected concussion on the day of the contest,” he said in a release. “The new policy clarifies the action that must be taken for a student-athlete to return to play in the days, weeks or months that follow after they are diagnosed to have suffered a concussion.”

Marty Hickman, the IHSA Executive Director, said the new policy would not have happened without the National Federation of State High School Associations having taken steps to reduce concussions before the 2010-11 school year.

“The more we learn about concussions, the more we realize the long-term effects of these injuries and how important follow-up is for student-athletes,” Hickman said in a release. “The NFHS helped bring its members to the forefront of concussion recognition and prevention earlier this year, and we believe we have now added an equally critical component to student-athlete safety following a concussion.”

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