Student athletes get new rules on concussions, other sports injuries

Deidre Cruse

With concussions and other sports injuries much in the news, the Iberville Parish School Board last week adopted a policy in line with a new state law aimed at protecting student athletes.

Board members Michael “Chief” Barbee of Plaquemine and Darlene Ourso of White Castle urged that the school system hire medical professionals to be on the sidelines on game nights.

“I don't think we do enough to protect our kids at East Iberville or White Castle,” Ourso said.

Board Member Nancy T. Broussard of St. Gabriel said she understood that the school system was to hire someone at East Iberville High School. She said she did not know how many concussions Iberville Parish athletes have suffered participating in sports, but she knew of one at East Iberville.

The new policy, adopted in a 14-0 vote, requires every coach and official will be required to go through an annual concussion recognition training course.

Student athletes must be removed from play – games or practice – if they report or exhibit signs or symptoms of a concussion, or the injury is reported by a qualified medical sports professional.

“If a youth athlete is removed from play and the signs and symptoms cannot be readily explained by a condition other than concussion,” the policy says, “the coach shall notify the athlete's parent or legal guardian and shall not permit the youth athlete to return to play or participate in any supervised team activities involving physical exertion, including games, competitions or practices, until the youth athlete is evaluated by a health care provider and receives written clearance...for a full return to play.”

Similar precautions are outlined for the management of other serious sports injuries.

The policy requires the School Board to provide information on the risk of concussions and other serious sports injuries to coaches, officials, volunteers, athletes and their parents or legal guardian. The information must cover the risk of continuing to play after a concussion and head injury.

The student athlete and his/her parents or guardian must sign a form indicating they understand the requirements that must be satisfied for an athlete suspected to have a concussion or head injury to return to play.

In other action last week, the School Board updated its mental health policy to reflect strengthened state laws.