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Falls School Board OKs concussion plan

Athletes from all sports must be educated about symptoms

July 2, 2012

Menomonee Falls - The Menomonee Falls School Board approved the concussion management plan that includes an information pamphlet parents, teachers and coaches have to sign in order to participate in any district sport.

Baseball players and their parents are already familiar with the drill as the state mandated a concussion program be implemented before this year's baseball season in school districts. Districts had to educate staff, parents and athletes on the signs and risks of head injuries before the summer sport began. The School Board approved the management plan Monday night with minor changes. The plan was also added to the district's athletic handbook as a requirement to participate in sports.

Every student and his or her parent have to sign off on a sheet saying they have received education about concussions in order to participate in each, individual sport. Coaches, licensed athletic trainers, other medical staff and administrative personnel have to complete a free, web-based course on concussion symptoms, signs and management.

"It's not a once a year training, even for coaches," School District nurse Julie Italiano-Thomas said. "If you coach football and track, you have to do the training for football and for track."

If a student plays more than one sport, they have to sign the sheet for each season. The packet is meant to provide education to parents, students and teachers about the nature and risks of concussions. It also provides information on ways to detect and treat brain injuries before resuming playing or practicing a sport.

Baseline testing for some

High school students who play high-impact sports, which include basketball, wrestling, soccer, softball, baseball and football, also have to undergo a preseason concussion assessment every two years. The school district has partnered with Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing Applications through Froedtert Health and Community Memorial Hospital to provide neurocognitive testing through a computer system.

The program measures specific brain functions that may be altered due to a concussion. Italiano-Thomas said this information is put in a database that can be accessed if needed after an injury occurs for comparison purposes. The preseason assessments will take place at the high school library.

"There's a listing of questions that kids are asked, such as what medications they are on, because that can cause some of the same symptoms as a concussion," Italiano-Thomas said. "If we think they've had a concussion, the doctors can look at that and their answers in the preseason tests."

Parents can anticipate receiving concussion information before every sports season.

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