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Concussion guidelines

In an effort to safeguard our student-athletes from Traumatic Brain Injuries/Concussions, P.R.O. Sports & Spinal Rehab & Sabres Hockey mandates strict guidelines for the management, treatment, and return to play criteria for all athletes who participate this season.


Zero Tolerance

A zero tolerance policy is enforced for all athletes, parents and coaches who attempt to hide the signs and symptoms of an athlete’s concussion or for failing to report a concussion to the organization. 


What can happen if my child keeps on playing with a concussion or returns too soon? 

Athletes with the signs and symptoms of a concussion should be removed from play immediately. Continuing to play with the signs and symptoms of a concussion leaves the young athlete especially vulnerable to greater injury. There is an increased risk of significant damage from a concussion for a period of time after that concussion occurs, particularly if the athlete suffers another concussion before completely recovering from the first one. This can lead to prolonged recovery or even to severe brain swelling (second impact syndrome) with devastating and even fatal consequences. It is well known that adolescent or teenage athletes will often fail to report symptoms of injuries. Concussions are no different. As a result, education of administrators, coaches, parents and students is the key to the athlete’s safety. 


Concussion Management Plan & Policy

The decision as to whether or not an athlete will be allowed to return to play after being diagnosed with a concussion, or is believed to have received a concussion, will be determined by this policy:


Return to Play Policy

1. In accordance with IHSA rules and Illinois State law, any student-athlete suspected of a concussion must be evaluated and obtain a release form from a licensed physician. If the student-athlete did not suffer a concussion, the release form must clearly state that, otherwise return to play guidelines will be implemented.

2. IMPACT test scores will be recorded 24-72 hours after suspected head injury or concussion, if possible. These scores will be compared to baseline scores and be made available to parents, student-athletes and attending physicians. IMPACT tests must be normal when compared to baseline test results for a student-athlete to progress to the next step in the return to play process. Student-athletes must be asymptomatic when beginning the following exertion/exercise components.

3. For each of the exertion/exercise components the student-athlete must remain asymptomatic and cannot progress to the next step without waiting 24 hours between each step.

Step 1: Exertion/exercise component; 20-30 minutes of stationary bicycling or walking on a treadmill.

Step 2: Sport specific exercise and drills (skating in hockey, running in soccer, dribbling shooting in basketball, technique drills in football).

Step 3: Full practice no contact.

Step 4: Full practice with contact.

Step 5: Return to competition/game.

If at any time the student-athlete experiences reoccurring signs and symptoms of a concussion, the athlete will wait 24 hours and return to the previous step in the protocol and progress according to the above steps.


 Concussion: The Facts

A concussion is a brain injury and all brain injuries are serious. They are caused by a bump, blow, jolt to the head or by a blow to another part of the body with the force transmitted to the head. They can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works. Even though most concussions are mild, all concussions are potentially serious and may result in complications including prolonged brain damage and death if not recognized and managed properly. In other words, even a “ding” or a bump on the head can be serious. You can’t see a concussion and most sports concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may show up right after the injury or can take hours or days to fully appear. If your child reports any symptoms of a concussion or if you notice the symptoms or signs of concussion yourself, seek medical attention immediately.


Signs observed by teammates, parents and coaches include:

• Appears dazed • Vacant facial expression • Confused about assignment • Forgets plays   

• Is unsure of game, score, or opponent • Moves clumsily or displays incoordination • Answers questions slowly

• Slurred speech • Shows behavior or personality changes • Can’t recall events prior to hit • Can’t recall events after hit

• Seizures or convulsions • Any change in typical behavior or personality • Loses consciousness

Adapted from the CDC and the 3rd international Conference on Concussion in Sport Document created 7/1/2011


What should I do if I think my child has suffered a concussion?

Any athlete even suspected of suffering a concussion should be removed from the game or practice immediately. No athlete should return to activity after an apparent head injury or concussion, regardless of how mild it seems or how quickly symptoms clear, without medical clearance. Close observation of the athlete should continue for several hours. IHSA Policy requires athletes to provide their school with written clearance from a licensed physician. You should also inform your child’s coach if you think that your child may have a concussion. Remember it’s better to miss one game than miss the whole season. And when in doubt, the athlete should sit out.

Further concerns should be addressed to Dr. Randy Cybulski (prorehabdoctor@gmail.com) and the staff of P.R.O. Rehab.

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