On October 29, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC) released a detailed report on “Sports-Related Concussions in Youth – Improving the Science, Changing the Culture.”
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which has been a leader among national sports organizations in the area of concussion awareness and management the past five years, fully cooperated with the preparation of the report and is in support of many of the report’s recommendations.
“We support the report’s conclusion that a culture change is a national priority,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “Concussions are not ‘dings’ – they are serious medical conditions that need to be addressed. I am pleased to report that the NFHS places its highest priority on risk minimization for the 7.7 million participants in high school sports.”
In 2008, the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee advocated that a concussed athlete shall be immediately removed from play and not return until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional. For the past four years, all NFHS rules publications have contained guidelines for the management of an athlete exhibiting signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion.
In addition, with help from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the NFHS developed a free, 20-minute online course “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know.” More than 1.2 million administrators, coaches, officials, athletes, parents and health-care professionals have taken the course since 2010. (See www.nfhslearn.com)
The NFHS also agrees that injury surveillance is important to help prevent future injuries. Since 2005, the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study (High School RIO), commissioned by the NFHS and compiled by Dr. Dawn Comstock, principal investigator from the Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER) program at the Colorado School of Public Health and Colorado Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, has been collecting injury surveillance data for the NFHS. (visit http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/PublicHealth/research/ResearchProjects/piper/projects/RIO/Pages/Study-Reports.aspx for the full reports.)
The NFHS also works with the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research (NCCSIR) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, which has been collecting catastrophic injury data on all sports for more than 35 years.
“The NFHS strives to minimize risk for all high school athletes in all sports,” Gardner said. “The athletic community – administrators, coaches, officials, athletes, parents and health-care professionals – should know that this support system of rules, education and research exists to provide a safer environment for all athletes in all sports. We hope the report will encourage all these leaders in the high school athletic community to recognize and respond more effectively to concussions."