It would require a longer recuperation for students suffering from concussions.
Starting this fall, new guidelines will go into affect covering head injuries by student athletes.
The policies developed by the Maryland State Board of Education and the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association would make coaches and students more aware of concussions. Coaches would have to verify in writing that they've received concussion awareness training. Student athletes would receive literature on concussions, and they and their parents would have to sign a concussion awareness acknowledgment statement from the Maryland State Department of Education. There would also be a longer recuperative time for students who were injured while playing sports.
"I think the main emphasis is not having someone go back until they've fully recovered from their initial concussion," says Dr. Dave Kowalk, an orthopedic surgeon in Frederick. He and Urbana High School sports trainer Christy Denny were guests Sunday on WFMD's "Frederick County Sports Weekend."
Denny says there are already policies in place in Frederick County Public Schools when it comes to concussions. "All of our coaches are required to take a training from NFHS, the National Federation of High School Sports. They're all required to take a concussion training course through the program. They have to do it every two years," she says.
She also says coaches have a lot latitude when it comes to removing students from play if they've suffered a head injury. "If they have a kid at all that's any type of questionable, then they will pull them. They know that's it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to head injuries," Denny says.
Sports trainers are also available at most home games in Frederick County. Denny says, ideally, trainers should be available for every game, but budget restrictions prevent that. However, even if one is not available, Denny says they are often a phone call away. "We tend to stay with the higher contact sports because obviously there's more risk of an injury with that. But certainly, all the coaches have our phone numbers. They all know how to get a .hold of us. And we're there for every home event which for right now is probably about as good as you're going to get," she says.
A concussion is a traumatic injury to the head which alters brain functions. "People have problems with confusion, loss of being able to concentrate, light sensitivity, coordination problems, balance problems, headaches," says Dr. Kowalk.
Sports where head injuries are most common are football, lacrosse and soccer, but Dr. Kowalk says students can get injuried in any spot. "Certainly, the collision contact sports like football, lacrosse, those are much higher risk for concussions than say tennis or swimming," he says.
The state is also working on classifying each sport as contact, non-contact and collision, says Denny. She there will be restrictions on the amount the contact, including modifications to practices. Denny says they're similar to restrictions placed on practices during the heat.
The new guidelines are expected to be issued on August 15th, according to Denny.