Senate Passes Concussion Management Awareness Act

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For many athletes or parents of athletes, a concussion is considered a serious injury. It wasn’t until now, however, that public schools had a set of guidelines on how to deal with a student who may have suffered a concussion.

The Concussion Management Awareness Act is a 27-page document published by the state that outlines concussion management guidelines with a stringent protocol for teachers and student athletes.

The recommendations are the result of bill S.3953 that went into effect on Sunday. Under the new state law, New York public school students suspected of suffering a concussion must immediately be removed from the activity and cannot return until they have been evaluated by a doctor, and all of their symptoms have subsided. Even then, students and staff are required to follow a protocol that decrees a five-day slow return to any strenuous in class assignments or sports.

The recommendations follow a procedure known as the Zurich protocol, a standard adopted by brain-injury experts during an international conference in 2008.

The challenge some experts face is diagnosing a concussion. Dr. Ken Shapiro, director of the brain injury rehabilitation program at Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in Schenectady, tells the Times-Union that there is no blood test or brain scan to help determine the condition, however, trained physicians can tell by noting a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms include concentration and memory loss, fatigue, headaches and slow reaction times.

The best-known treatment for concussions is the removal of stress and stimulation to the brain, including homework. The new guidelines recommend limited homework, studying, and other learning activities for students in recovery.