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New state law mandates concussion procedures

    TRI-COUNTY AREA—Concussions are a serious concern for athletes and a new state law aims to better protect injured student athletes.
    The law requires schools to take more measures into ensuring that students with sports concussions do not get back into the action before fully recovering. The Concussion Management and Awareness Act went into effect July 1, 2011.
    However, Penn Yan started following part of the requirements last year. Athletic Director Tobin Tansey said the district started testing students using the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) program last August. The test measures verbal and visual memory, reaction time, and player symptoms.
    Tansey said that first test will be used as a baseline; if a student is suspected of having a concussion while playing, the student will be tested again and the results compared to the baseline results. ImPACT takes about 30 minutes to be implemented. Tansey said the goal is to do the baseline tests for every student athlete upon entering seventh, ninth, and 11th grade. He added the annual subscription cost is less than $500 a year.
    Tansey explained that if a student has a head injury they are sidelined and must be checked out by a doctor. He said that the student is not allowed to play for at least seven days before getting the physician’s approval. The law says if the student is even suspected of possibly having a concussion they are pulled from the game.
    Tansey added, “90 percent of the kids with concussions will be back right away (after the seven days).” For the other students he said the return could take several weeks or a month.
    Dundee Athletic Director Jen Hutchess explained the district would not be purchasing the ImPACT program to test student athletes. She said if a student is suspected of having a concussion they would be tested daily and required to meet certain levels proving they are recovering. Before returning to play the student must also be cleared by Dundee’s school physician and the family doctor.
    Under the new law, each school must also form a concussion committee to make sure the new guidelines are implemented. Tansey said Penn Yan’s committee includes himself, the school medical staff, and several coaches.
    Watkins Glen Central School District is taking advantage of nearby Schuyler Hospital to offset the cost of using the ImPACT program. Superintendent Tom Phillips explained the hospital will provide the services of an athletic director and a physical therapist for about 30 hours a week.
    The state also has some responsibilities under the new law. The health and education department commissioners have to develop the rules and regulations concerning concussion injuries and post that information online.



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