High School Coaches Must Take Concussion Education Course
After the enactment of a recent law by state health officials, Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association coaches will be required to take a concussion education course offered by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Wellness Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary of promoting the health and safety of student-athletes. The program consists of extensive programming and policies focused on helping student-athletes make healthy life choices.
To further the efforts of the wellness program, the MIAA Board of Directors voted unanimously this month to make it mandatory for all member-school coaches to take an online concussion course starting with the 2010-2011 winter season, which begins on Nov. 29.
"Anything that is there to help the kids we are all for," said Danvers High School Athletic Director John Sullivan in regard to the new law.
"This summer the state enacted a concussion law directed at MIAA member schools. We now are waiting for the Department of Public Health (DPH) to develop resultant regulations," said Bill Haley, athletic director at Concord-Carlisle High School and MIAA President. "Meanwhile, we have advised our members to follow the wellness protocols already in place for many years and any other aspects of the new law they can meet until new regulations are established by the DPH."
As part of the current wellness program, MIAA member-school coaches are required to participate in an education course within one year of being hired. The course includes first aid instruction, recognizing signs of head injury and drug or steroid use, among other wellness issues.
In addition, member-schools continue to require physical examinations for student-athletes and submission of a health history from a parent or guardian. The MIAA has long had a rule requiring medical clearance before an athlete who has suffered a head injury can return to play.
"Many of our schools go beyond the association's requirements and programs, "working with physicians, trainers, school nurses, parents and outside consultants to expand awareness of safety issues in different sports," said Haley.
The online course, which is available on the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Web site, has already been voluntarily taken by more than 4,700 Massachusetts residents this fall.
"We are having our coaches get certified in the suggested MIAA online certification and we have a skilled training staff that handles all the decisions regarding concussions," said Sullivan.
"No athletes will go back to play without the trainer's approval," he added. "If he thinks that there is a threat of a concussion he would then send the athlete to the doctor and for that athlete to return he/she would have to give a note from that doctor."