Coaches and parents play a key role in preventing concussions and responding properly when they occur. The following are some important steps to take to ensure the best outcome for the athletes, team, league or school.
Determine if concussion policies are present. These statements can be developed to include a commitment to safety, a brief description about concussions and information on when athletes can safely return to play. Parents and athletes should sign the concussion policy statement at the beginning of each sport season. Support from other parents and league/school officials can ensure that the policies are in place before the first practice.
Create a concussion action plan
To ensure concussions are identified early and managed correctly, have an action plan in place before the season starts. The plan can include the school’s or district’s concussion policy
Educate athletes, parents and coaches about concussions
Discuss the dangers of concussions and potential long term consequences. Explain your concerns and your expectations of safe play. show videos and pass out concussion fact sheets, and remind athletes to inform the coach immediately if they may have a concussion or suspect that a teammate is showing signs of a concussion.
Monitor health of the athletes
Ask the athletes if they have had a concussion and insist that all athletes are medically evaluated and are in good condition to participate. Some schools and leagues conduct baseline testing to assess brain function. These tests can be used again during the season if an athlete has a concussion to help manage return to play criteria.
During practice and games – Safety First
- Teach and practice safe playing techniques
- Encourage athletes to follow the rules of play
- Make sure protective equipment is properly fitted and is worn for all activity
Teach athletes the risk of playing with a concussion
Rest is key after a concussion. Sometimes athletes, parents and other school officials wrongly believe it shows strength or courage to play injured. Discourage other players and coaches from pressuring injured athletes to play.
Work with league and school officials
It is important to have appropriate individuals available for injury assessment and referrals for further medical care. Health care professionals should be utilized to monitor changes in the athletes behavior after sustaining a concussion.