Illinois Paves the Way for HS Football Policy

ihsa-1487882592-2402It has been a long time coming… Not a new post on this blog, rather, a proactive and thoughtful policy/plan for high school football safety. This process has not been easy and there is no way I can take full credit for this but I do have some rather exciting news regarding something that I, personally, have been working on for six years.

Today the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors approved a new policy, Policy 13 that states:

Weekly Player Limitations for Football
1. A player shall not play in more than 2 games in any one week, and shall not play in more than one game in a single day. For the purposes of this section, a week is defined as the seven-day period running from Sunday through the following Saturday. (It is recommended that if a player does play in 2 games in a given week, one of those games is only as a one way player. [i.e., only plays on offense or defense or special teams])]
2. Players cannot play in games on consecutive days or be involved in live contact/thud in practice the day after playing in a game.
3. 1 play in a game equals a game played.
NOTE: If a player plays in a game that is stopped due to weather or other circumstances and completed the next day, the player can participate in the resumed game the following day.

Back in 2012 I wrote this piece on what I thought would be a better way to protect our athletes Continue reading

Concussion Series from Illinois and Christopher Heimerman have been posting a series about concussions recently, legend found HERE.  Recently Heimerman took on the angle of athletic trainers as they relate to the “Hidden Injury”, concussion.  On the jump there is an interview with Sterling High School Athletic Trainer, Andi Sumerfelt seen here;

If you go to YouTube to watch it, it should bring up the series of videos that go along with the stories on

There was one column that caught my eye – both personally and professionally – athletic trainers in high schools;

Not having an athletic trainer is forgivable. Refusing to acknowledge the need for one? That’s different.

I sat down with Dixon School District Superintendent Mike Juenger and Athletic Director Jon Empen, hoping for some answers about what life was like after Andi Sumerfelt lost her job, and Dixon lost her free services as athletic trainer.

This is a common theme lately, athletic trainers losing their jobs at hospitals and hospitals no longer providing a service for free.  Schools are either faced with losing the coverage completely or pay for a reduced coverage.  In this column Dixon 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

Gov. Quinn FINNALY Set To Sign

The Illinois State Legislature has been working on the concussion bill since January, it has been held up along the way for a couple of amendments but has been sitting on the Governors desk since June 3rd (LINK).  Word is that the Governor is set to sign the bill today at a ceremony in Solider Field (the 30th total according to our records) putting into motion, what I have been trying to tell any school in Illinois that would listen, the requirements for concussions at the high school level.

This bill has remained relatively unchanged since I first posted about it in February; there are two Amendments that you can see in the first link.  In quick synopsis this bill/law will; Continue reading

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.