IL Advisory Council on Player Safety Meeting Minutes 3/31

It is a little late but the Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety (or PSAC as we call it) met at the end of March to keep this tremendous ball rolling. The minutes are below but the take home from my perspective was:

  • The group as a whole is very committed to being proactive (noted by the including of the psychological safety, push for athletic trainers/MDs, changing of outdated restraints for injuries)
  • Input from all in attendance was exceptional and it is nice to have varying “stakes” at one table looking out for players.
  • Personally I think I get way to passionate about this and think things can be changed in a New York minute, but I am learning about how these processes work.
  • There seemed to be a commitment to continue this committee going beyond the one year trial period, which is good because we are doing good work behind the scenes.
  • I really appreciate the IHSA and Kurt Gibson for overseeing this process/committee and taking notes and hearing our presentations/concerns.

Here are the minutes.

PSAC Meeting Minutes for March 31, 2016

You can also find the minutes and previous minutes at the Play Smart Play Hard Website by going to the Advisory Council tab. We already have added a resource for the “Health & Well Being” of the athlete on the Resources tab. While you are there take a minute to Take the Pledge for playing smart and playing hard.

As always, I am open to comments, questions and inquires about the PSAC. You can drop them here or in the inbox.

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Illinois Governor Signs Concussion Bill Into Law – UPDATE

UPDATED: 15:20, see below…

Yesterday Illinois Gov. Rauner signed  SB0007 into law making it Public Act 099-0245 effectively titled Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act bringing a much more robust set of standards when dealing with concussions in Illinois.

The bill/law is basically an extension of the IHSA Policies regarding concussions plus some strengthening for player/participant safety.

Most notably this law now pertains to all sports, not just limited to the high school sports.

There will be more to follow on this as I get more time to delve into the entire bill.

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I have read the bill a few times and here are the other important takeaways from this bill:

  • Any Park District and Youth Sports program must make available concussion information
  • Returning from a concussion in youth sports programs or other organized sports (see club sports) must go through same steps as the IHSA/IESA standards
  • All schools under the State Board of Education must have the following:
    • A concussion oversight team that includes the following:
      • at least one physician
      • if school employs athletic trainer they must be included
      • if school employs nurse they must be included
      • administrator of protocol (essentially someone in charge of paperwork and policies)
      • if wanted any other healthcare provider as outlined in bill (MD/DO, PT, OT, ATC, RN, PsyD)
    • A concussion return-to-play protocol
    • A concussion return-to-learn protocol
    • All members of the concussion oversight team, coaches and officials must have no less than two hours of continuing education, from respective and approved providers, on concussion every two years.
  • If suspected of a concussion and pulled from game or practice the injured must meet minimum requirements to return to play and can only be signed off by a physician or athletic trainer working under a physicians license/direction.
    • If concussed the injured MUST go through the RTP protocol as set forth by each school and the RTP must be approved by the IHSA

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Minutes From First Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety

PSPHlogo“Welcome to a historic event.” Is how Associate Executive Director, Kurt Gibson opened the first meeting of its kind in Illinois and for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). With the vast majority of the Council present it did not take long for all of us to get to “work”.

The Council (which we shortened to PSAC – Player Safety Advisory Council) dove right into the meat of the issues surrounding sports and player safety. Rather than giving a play-by-play I will let you read the minutes from the meeting (LINK HERE);

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MINUTES OF THE PLAY SMART. PLAY HARD PLAYER SAFETY ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING June 9, 2015

The Play Smart. Play Hard Player Safety Advisory Council met at the IHSA office in Bloomington, Illinois on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Committee members present were Dustin Fink, Sara Flanigan, Tory Lindley, Dennis Piron, and Cole Steward. Also in attendance were Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson; Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha; and guest, Sports Medicine Advisory Committee member Greg Gaa. Not present were members Tregg Duerson, Senator Napoleon Harris, and Allison Hieb.

ITEMS OF GENERAL DISCUSSION:

1. IHSA administrators Kurt Gibson and Matt Troha welcomed the council to the first meeting of the Play Smart. Play Hard Player Safety Advisory Council.

2. The council reviewed its purpose of monitoring current IHSA programs and initiatives, identifying new areas to advance player safety, and helping communicate the Play Smart. Play Hard vision.

3. The council reviewed the following materials from the IHSA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC): ● minutes of the committee’s April 2015 meeting ● recommendations made by IHSA’s Football and SMAC regarding football contact ● Managing Heat/Humidity Policy recommendation The council’s feedback on the football contact and Heat Policy recommendations are listed below under items.

4. The council discussed Senate Bill 07, which is currently awaiting signature from Governor Rauner. Among other things, SB 07 creates a Concussion Oversight Team in schools to monitor Return to Play and Return to Learn for student-athletes who have sustained a concussion, requires education on concussions and symptoms for coaches and athletic officials, and requires schools to develop school-specific Emergency Action Plans (EAP’s) to address serious injuries that may occur on campus.

5. The council heard reports from Allison Hieb and Cole Steward, the two student members of the council, on concussion from the perspective of student-athletes. Both students shared the perspective of how their schools have addressed concussion with their student-athletes on both the individual and team level. As a part of that discussion, the council suggested that the IHSA consider developing some kind of post-video assessment be created for students to complete. Additionally, the council thought it may be worthwhile for the IHSA to register and track student-athletes from a sports medicine perspective. IHSA staff indicated they would begin the process by working on some kind of checklist that all member schools can utilize.

6. In reviewing the football recommendations made by the IHSA Football and Sports Medicine Advisory Committees, the council expressed their desire to see the IHSA be bolder with its recommendations concerning the amounts of full contact Continue reading

Play Smart. Play Hard.

PSPHlogo

Today the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) launched a national initiative for overall student-athlete safety and participation in sport. It is called Play Smart. Play Hard. 

The campaign will focus on education and equipping athletes, parents, coaches and schools on ways to better safeguard the heath and welfare of student-athletes, including minimizing the risk of head injuries.

The main function of this campaign is to have readily available information and tools for player safety; taking on the current issues/risks as well as being forward-thinking and discussing and formulating plans for other issues that are of concern in sports. At the center of Play Smart. Play Hard. are the resources including a Player Safety Toolkit which is directed at concussions at this time. When going to the Play Smart. Play Hard. page (www.playsmartplayhard.org) in the resource tab you can find all the current Illinois and IHSA concussion information as well as the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concussion info.

Play Smart. Play Hard. may have been trumpeted by the IHSA and Illinois but there are many other state high school association supporters of this innovative approach, 27 to be exact, check the site to see if your state is part of it.

As mentioned on the blog yesterday Continue reading

Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety

It was last month and I was routinely checking the inbox when I noticed a correspondence from the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) with the subject line “IHSA Request”. Of course this piqued my interest because it is not often I get information from the state high school organization and the ‘request’ portion may have been dealing with athletic training. As I opened the message I simply thought this was a blasted email with necessary information from the IHSA…  I was wrong, on so many levels.

This is how the email opened;

Good morning, Dustin.  I hope things are going well.

I wanted to write you today to invite you to be a member of the Illinois High School Association’s (IHSA) newly established Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety, which aims to influence, shape and strengthen the IHSA’s commitment to protecting the welfare of all those involved in interscholastic competition in Illinois.

Needless to say I was kind of taken aback, but after that fleeting moment I was honored and excited and quickly read the entire correspondence and even more quickly responded to the IHSA with a definite yes (I didn’t want them to second guess my invitation, hahaha).

The Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety aims to be a well-rounded plenary body – with much and varying expertise – that can guide discussion on ways the Illinois high school athletic community can improve, advance, set initiatives and create higher standards for player safety. This body cannot create policy but it can influence decisions and create internal debate. Initially the main focus will be on head injuries, however, it is thought that the Council will eventually take time to look at all player safety issues going forward (heat illness, sudden cardiac death, and many more). The Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety is a part of a greater campaign that the IHSA is unveiling tomorrow (more on that then).

The Council is going to be made up of eight members from across the state; student-athletes, coach, official, athletic trainers, alumni and state legislators.  Below are the quick bios of the Council at this time: Continue reading

Being From IL, People Want To Know What I Think of Law Suit Against IHSA

Sq 300 JI have been asked by many people what my thoughts are on the first law suit filed against a state high school association in regards to concussion.  With this coming in my “home” state of Illinois, people figured I would have a strong statement or unique perspective.  I have struggled with coming up with exactly what I wanted to say and could not figure out why.  This is in my wheelhouse, commentary on recent and public events; one would think it would have been natural.

Then, I figured out why I couldn’t come up with something…  BECAUSE I ALREADY DID, 29 MONTHS AGO!!!

Almost like I could see into the future.  Below is what I wrote here and sent off to the Illinois High School Association in May of 2012.  Looking back on it I still feel strongly in the proposals and the rationale.  Take a quick look for yourself:

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I have been working on this letter for a little while but was really spurred to action by the parent in Maryland, Tom Hearn who discussed his concerns with the local school board.  I have tried and tried to use the “chain-of-command” with these thoughts and ideas, however at every step I got the feeling I would have to go alone on this, so I have.  This letter may or may not reflect the opinions of my employer, high school, athletic training sanctioning bodies, or others I am involved with.  This letter is from a concerned individual who feels I can spread the message effectively by these means.  I have emailed the letter, proposals and the Sports Legacy Institute Hit Count White Paper to all Executive Directors and Board of Directors of the Illinois High School Association.

OPEN LETTER

May 15, 2012

Illinois High School Association
c/o: Marty Hickman, Executive Director
2175 McGraw Drive
Bloomington, IL 61704-6011
(309) 663-7479 – fax

Dear IHSA – Executive Directors, Board of Directors and Sports Med Advisory Board:

I am writing this letter to address the growing concern of concussions in sports, mainly in football.  It should be noted that football is not the only sport with a concussion issue; however this sport combines the highest participation, highest risk, and highest visibility.  This letter should not be construed as an attack on the sport of football, but rather a way to keep the sport continuing to grow.

As a licensed and practicing Athletic Trainer, researcher, commenter, father, and survivor of too many concussions, I feel that in order to keep the sports we love, proactive steps must be taken.  Often being proactive is a painful process and easily dismissed because of the trouble it will cause.  I urge all involved to think about what the future of all sports will be if nothing is done.

The Illinois State Legislature with the IHSA took the initiative by creating a mechanism of concussion education and awareness in response to the mounting scientific evidence of potential long-term impairments resulting from mishandling of this injury.  However, this only represents a first step in the process; passing out a flyer or having parents and athletes initial that they have read the information is one small element of the issue.  Another crucial element of the issue is coaching. We must ensure that those we entrust with the care and leadership of our children understand Continue reading

Arkansas Looks Into Hit Limits

Over two years ago I sent an open letter and proposals to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) regarding hit limits in football.  Some took this as a “candy ass” approach and one that was not needed.  I disagreed with that assessment, in fact, I felt that what I wrote at the time was proactive and could be a way for this state to be a leader in the area of protection in concussions;

I am writing this letter to address the growing concern of concussions in sports, mainly in football.  It should be noted that football is not the only sport with a concussion issue; however this sport combines the highest participation, highest risk, and highest visibility.  This letter should not be construed as an attack on the sport of football, but rather a way to keep the sport continuing to grow.[…]

Recent evidence suggests that even the subconcussive hits – those that effectively “rattle” the brain but do not produce signs or symptoms – become problematic as the season wears on, let alone a career.  As the researchers in this field gain focus and more specific diagnostic tools, I feel we will see damning evidence that will put collision sports in jeopardy as they are currently constructed – the key being “as they are currently”.  There can be a change, both positive and proactive, that will signal to everyone that the IHSA is taking this matter seriously and can set a nationwide standard.

Needless to say it was brushed aside and was ignored, except for a kind email saying things were happening behind the scenes.  Now, two years and one month later there could be a 12th – TWELVE – states that have contact limits in place for high school football; as Arkansas looks into the matter;

According to reports, the Arkansas Activities Association has passed a recommendation to ask school superintendents to cut full contact practice time to just three times during game weeks. With one of those being the game itself, it leaves just two days of tackling if the proposal passes.

Jason Cates is the lead trainer for Cabot High School, and the former President of the Arkansas Athletic Trainers’ Association, he says, “Something has to be done.”

“The more studies that are showing that hit counts do count and add up.”

The Arkansas proposal limits the full contact days to three, opposed to the two I proposed, but it seems to me that others have seen the light.  That light is both the end of the tunnel and the oncoming freight train.  Kids need Continue reading

IHSA Proposed Heat Acclimatization Policy

There was big news out of Bloomington, Illinois coming and I was getting fired up because the word on the street was they had been working with the Kory Stinger Institute and Sports Legacy Institute to create a new “football” policy.  With my effort over the past two years to get the Illinois High School Association to look at and make some proactive changes to the way football is practiced, there was hope it had not fallen on deaf ears.

Well, the announcement/proposal is out…  It’s a good first step; one that addresses the heat issues that plague football. Some highlights are;

  • 14 day period that every player must go through to be eligible to play
  • Strict guidelines on actual practice time and rest time during multiple practice days (traditionally 2-a-days)
  • Set rest days
  • Removal of “grey area” of weights/agilities/walk throughs
  • Definition of scrimmages
  • No matter what was done before the start of the season all must do the 14 day period

Moreover this proposal is very specific and makes very good sense in the area of heat acclimatization.  Obviously you can see the hard work of KSI in the proposal, but where is SLI input?  Some of the missing talking points Continue reading

Commentary on Proposal for Limiting Contact in HS Football

It has been over a week now since I wrote the high school sanctioning body in Illinois about making a change to limit contact in high school football.  This was not done to promote myself, nor was it to hammer a sport many – including me – love.  It was an attempt to get out in front of the issue and make proactive changes to protect not only the players but the game of football.  It is a genuine good intention on my part.

Since the letter went out via email and on this blog I have had many responses from many different people and places.  There have been questions and comments about what was written and in this post I will address as many as possible.

Let us begin with the deafening silence on the issue.  As in only one email in response (24 sent out) from the IHSA and its board of directors.  That response was as follows; “Thanks, Dustin”.  Yup that is it.  Not that I was expecting an invitation to HQ to break this down but maybe some questions or comments or stonewalling, nope – nothing.

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Cost became a hot topic on this proposal.  Yes, I concede that hiring an athletic trainer will cost you some money, but seriously would you send you kid to a swimming pool without a life guard?  It is the same thing as sudden death, Continue reading

Open Letter and Proposals to IHSA about Concussions

I have been working on this letter for a little while but was really spurred to action by the parent in Maryland, Tom Hearn who discussed his concerns with the local school board.  I have tried and tried to use the “chain-of-command” with these thoughts and ideas, however at every step I got the feeling I would have to go alone on this, so I have.  This letter may or may not reflect the opinions of my employer, high school, athletic training sanctioning bodies, or others I am involved with.  This letter is from a concerned individual who feels I can spread the message effectively by these means.  I have emailed the letter, proposals and the Sports Legacy Institute Hit Count White Paper to all Executive Directors and Board of Directors of the Illinois High School Association.

OPEN LETTER

May 15, 2012

Illinois High School Association
c/o: Marty Hickman, Executive Director
2175 McGraw Drive
Bloomington, IL 61704-6011
(309) 663-7479 – fax

Dear IHSA – Executive Directors, Board of Directors and Sports Med Advisory Board:

I am writing this letter to address the growing concern of concussions in sports, mainly in football.  It should be noted that football is not the only sport with a concussion issue; however this sport combines the highest participation, highest risk, and highest visibility.  This letter should not be construed as an attack on the sport of football, but rather a way to keep the sport continuing to grow.

As a licensed and practicing Athletic Trainer, researcher, commenter, father, and survivor of too many concussions, I feel that in order to keep the sports we love, proactive steps must be taken.  Often being proactive is a painful process and easily dismissed because of the trouble it will cause.  I urge all involved to think about what the future of all sports will be if nothing is done.

The Illinois State Legislature with the IHSA took the initiative by creating a mechanism of concussion education and awareness in response to the mounting scientific evidence of potential long-term impairments resulting from mishandling of this injury.  However, this only represents a first step in the process; passing out a flyer or having parents and athletes initial that they have read the information is one small element of the issue.  Another crucial element of the issue is coaching. We must ensure that those we entrust with the care and leadership of our children understand Continue reading

Central Illinois Conference (Semi-Live Blog)

Although I would like to live blog about the conference today in Clinton, I don’t think I will have the time but I can recap what has happened and will happen today.

I would first like to say I am extremely impressed with the attendance today, a very diverse audience: doctors, state administrators, athletic trainers, coaches, teachers and students.

Clinton High School Principal Ron Conner put together this conference today as he felt the adolescent athlete needs special attention so he put together this presentation with the help of Matt Munjoy, MHA, ATC.

The first speaker was Robert Keller, MD, a orothopedic surgeon that spoke on ACL injuries, the pathology, the evaluation, the surgery, recovery and prevention of ACL injuries.  Dr. Keller clearly identified that females may be more exposed to this significant injury than male counterparts.  A very good view/information from a surgeon.

The next speaker was Wendell Becton, MD, a sports medicine physician Continue reading

Concussion Management: Change is Happening!

I have noticed a major change in how we have been able to manage concussions at my school since this new legislation. When it initially came out the school personnel, athletes, and parents were reluctant and upset with the new requirements. I, on the other hand, was ecstatic because it put the athletic trainers in the forefront and helped bring to light the issue of concussions along with the issue of the lack of athletic trainers in secondary schools.

I am solely responsible for concussion management at the school that I am contracted with. In August, I spoke numerous times at parents’ meetings, with the athletes, and with the coaching staff. I spoke at length with the school nurse. All of them received information from the Illinois High School Association and CDC regarding concussions. The coaches, administrators, and school nurse were also provided with the return to play protocols.

It is important that we as athletic trainers take control of concussion management. Most others are not educated to do so nor Continue reading

Free Concussion Symposium UPDATE

Northwestern University is hosting a FREE concussion symposium to bring anyone that chooses to attend up to speed on concussion issues, particularly in the state of Illinois.  This even is co-sponsored by the Illinois High School Association.  Registration is necessary for this event.  I received an email from Megan McCann;

I wanted to give you the heads up about an upcoming symposium at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago which will aim to educate coaches, trainers, athletic directors and youth sports volunteers on the importance of concussion awareness. The free event will be held on Wednesday, July 27, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hunt Batjer, MD, chair of neurological surgery at Northwestern, is also the chair of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee. He will be among the panelists speaking on the topic of concussions.

You can get further information by CLICKING HERE.  The event culminates with a keynote luncheon (Mike Ditka is original headliner), as stated above registration is needed to attend, but it is free.  Go to the link above to get all set up.  Even though this is in my “backyard” unfortunately work conflicts will not allow me to attend, I would appreciate anyone that goes to send us the Cliff’s Notes version.

UPDATE 7/15/11 9:52am: Mike Ditka will be unavailable for the event, they are currently looking for a replacement and will announce ASAP.

IHSA Clarifies Concussion Mechanism

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and its Board of Directors approved the new recommendation for return to play for athletes (high school only mind you).  Currently Illinois does not have legislation in place for concussions, but when the current HB200 gets mixed with SB150 the legislation will give the authority for policies to the IHSA.  In lieu of not having legislation the IHSA has taken the NFHS rule a bit further in determining when a “concussed” player can return to practice or activity, period;

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.”

A proactive step by the IHSA that should be applauded, and also a step in the right direction in defining who exactly can clear an athlete; MD/DO or ATC ONLY.  There are other “doctors” that would be competent in dealing with concussions (see neuropsychologists) and perhaps in the future the IHSA will expand the licensed health care providers to include them.  This clarifies a lot of questions that many, including myself had in this state.

SD a Signature Away & IL Makes Changes

We highlighted, a while back, South Dakota pushing a bill through the state legislature, but as of today it only needs the Governor’s signature.  It is not without some questions, like the Illinois bill.

Senate Bill 149, also known as concussion legislation, is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. But those who support the bill say there’s still more to be done.

Kelli Grant of Keloland.com discussed the “shortfalls” with the bill, granted this move is a great start.  The main issue, just like Illinois is that the proposed bill only INCLUDES high school athletes sanctioned by the state association.  There is no mechanism for sports that are “club” or for those kids younger than high school age.

I was interviewed yesterday by a local TV station (WAND), about the bill in Illinois and how it can help the young athletes, and I made the same point that the article from South Dakota was making.  It is a great start, for both SD and IL, but if lawmakers are truly concerned for the safety of youth athletes more should be done.

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Specifically speaking on Illinois, Continue reading

The Winter Wednesday’s

The football season is officially over, however that does not mean the concussion risk is gone.  Yes, it will be reduced slightly, but awareness is continued and the importance of an athletic trainer is underscored more.  During the winter months we will spend time blogging about the life of an athletic trainer, what I do, and what we can do for schools.

It is now postseason for sports here in Illinois the time is now for teams to be at their best as the winner moves on.  The state-series here in Illinois includes every high school participating in the sport.  First is the Regionals where 5-8 teams at 32 sites begin the march to a state title (speaking of basketball), if the team advances they move on to Sectionals at 8 sites where 4 teams vie for a birth into Super Sectionals where 2 teams face of for a Final Four birth.

This time of year is full of emotions like; excitement, happiness, and sadness.  As an athletic trainer the excitement usually wins out until your team gets eliminated (and for the very few elation if they win it all).  Part of our dealings with the school include post-season coverage including travel to away sites, this is where the excitement comes in.

Traveling to other schools that you usually have very little interaction with is exciting, a chance to reacquaint with other athletic training peers, or administrations you know allows us to network.  Continue reading