Below is an email from the ATSNJ that I feel needs to be posted to create more dialogue. New Jersey, the ATSNJ and Eric Nussbaum have done a fine job of leading the way in this issue at the high school level. Thanks for the note.
From the Athletic Trainers Society of NJ, completed in November.
NJ was one of the first states to formally pass a concussion law in December of 2010. Our concussion law accomplished several things. a) directed our department of Education to develop a model concussion policy and instructed ALL districts to implement a formal concussion policy by September 1, 2011. b) Mandated concussion education for all licensed athletic trainers in the state. This makes us the only healthcare profession with mandated continuing education in concussion care, making athletic trainers concussion “experts”.
We had heard that many schools were having some issues formulating/implementing a formal program for their districts. There were several questions that were not well-defined in the law or model policy put out by the DOE. Key terms like: “trained in the management of concussion”, “asymptomatic”, “academic accommodations”, specific education and RTP guidelines were all issues that districts needed to consider for their policies.
The ATSNJ put together an online survey and sent it out to our secondary school ATs. We had 110 secondary schools with an LAT respond to the survey. (about a 33% return)
We conducted the survey to: a) see how many schools actually were implementing a board approved policy. b) find out if terms were being defined c) find out about consistent issues w/ policies d) determine what source of information schools were using to develop their programs d) determine who was responsible for education, notification, coordination and implementation of actual policy.
The highlights of the results were posted in our release, HERE;
- Only 63% of team physicians are “trained in the management of concussions”
- 9% of respondents do not have a board approved concussion policy.
- 27% of schools adopted a generic policy.
- 84% of districts do not define “trained in the management of concussions” in their concussion policy.
- 51% of districts do not define “asymptomatic” in their concussion policy.
- 60% of districts do not define specific academic accommodations in their concussion policy.
- 89% of school policies define “graduated return to play protocol”
- 100% of districts utilized athletic trainers as the gatekeeper for the concussion management process
We also developed a policy check list that schools and parents could utilize to evaluate each schools policy. We have posted suggestions for definitions and improving policies on our website, HERE.
We realize that development of a good working policy may take time and a little tweaking. The ATSNJ wants to be a resource for parents and schools as they develop their individualized policies.
Feedback is encouraged by commenting below.