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With Young Athletes' Concussions, Covington Latin Takes Innovative Approach

There is a new innovative approach to enhance concussion awareness and management for athletes at Covington Latin School.

The school issued a news release detailing the effort this week and stated that the plan goes beyond requirements from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The new concussion protocol, the release said, will encompass both a "return to learn and return to play" standard. Current rules set by KHSAA mandate that a possibly concussed student must sit out from practices or games until a medical evaluation has taken place and the doctor deems the student fit to play. Covington Latin is adding the "return to learn" component. 

Dr. Jon Divine, the immediate past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine board of directors and a nationally recognized concussion expert, helped create the new protocol. His son is a student at the school and suffered a concussion last year. The key to this new protocol is education and responsibility on the part of all parties from the student athlete to the classroom teacher. All student athletes will be given a baseline test measuring response and cognitive abilities prior to the respective sports season. They will also be educated on the importance and responsibility of reporting a head injury to their parent and coach. Each student athlete and coach will sign an acknowledgement form to solidify their reporting commitment to the parents and coaches.

The new standard applies when a player receives an impact injury to the head; the player is to report that to the parent and coach. The coach will inform the parent and the athletic director, who will in turn notify school officials that the student athlete may have sustained a head injury. Upon notification, if the parent determines a doctor’s examination is necessary, the parent will advise the athletic director of the results of the exam. If the student athlete is concussed, the athletic director notifies the Dean of Students and Dean of Academics and the return to learn protocol is initiated.  

Throughout the recuperation process, the parents will keep the school, specifically the athletic director, informed and the return to learn protocol is adjusted accordingly. 

Teachers, who have also been trained on concussion symptoms, will be advised and can report if they see their student athlete display symptoms that are out of the ordinary.

“This new protocol will create a level of accountability for all parties to ensure the well-being of our student athletes," said Andrew Peters, the school's athletics director. "The conventional focus has been on the return to play aspect of a concussion injury, but we need to be equally concerned with the student athlete’s ability to return to learn.  A concussed athlete needs to be rested both physically and cognitively and our Concussion Policy and Protocol remedies this.”  

According to Dr. Divine, a student athlete may need to avoid potential stressors such as school work, screen time, and reading. There should be a gradual return to cognitive activity just as there is one for physical activity based on a consultative process with student athlete, doctor, parents and faculty.

“With 85 percent of Covington Latin School students participating in athletics, this new multi-disciplinary approach will help assure the health and safety of our student athletes,“ Peters said.

-Staff report

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