Re “Westchester County unveils 10-point concussion plan,” Jan. 11 article:
In the City School District of New Rochelle we are in the sixth year of a rigorous program to protect our student athletes who experience head injuries. Our approach includes coach, parent and student education, establishing baseline testing for all athletes involved in collision/contact sports through the ImPACT Test, removal from play for a head injury, a dual system of monitoring students (treating physician and district clinical staff), as well as academic modifications to promote recuperation from concussion. We have established “return to play” protocols that allow an athlete a gradual return to their sport once they have been cleared to return. Our goal is the optimal, safe participation of our students participating in the district’s athletic program.
We are also active in school health and athletic organizations in Westchester, and are aware of many other districts that also have strong concussion programs in place per the guidelines established by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the New York State Education Department. These organizations require coaches and physical education teachers to take a concussion management course through the National Federation of High Schools (nfhslearn.com) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We encourage parents to access their districts’ policies and to ask questions. Rather than causing worry, as your article did, this will reassure parents that their children’s health and safety are being attended to appropriately.
We would encourage Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s task force to address the following, which we see as the next frontiers in concussion management, education and prevention:
- Establish concussion management protocols for the many recreational sports leagues in Westchester County. These organizations have hundreds of children and teens participate, but, unlike school districts, these leagues have no legislative mandate on coaching education and there are no guidelines for an athlete who receives a concussion.
- Create a county program that educates parents whose children are in a recreational league about the signs of a concussion and what to do when their child suffers one.
- Provide a continuing medical education course of study for emergency room physicians and office-based practitioners, many of whom are not aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion or the implications for a child if they return to their sport too soon.
- Develop prevention strategies specific to each high-risk sport.
Adrienne Weiss-Harrison, MD., is New Rochelle school district’s medical director/school physician; Steve Young is director of athletics for New Rochelle schools.