Student Well-Being

Sports Safety Action Plan Presented to Lawmakers

By Bryan Toporek — February 06, 2013 2 min read
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A group of more than 100 youth-sports organizations introduced a plan today to Capitol Hill lawmakers that calls for all schools to have a comprehensive athletic health-care administrative program, safe practice and play facilities, and injury- and illness-prevention strategies.

The Youth Sports Safety Alliance put the finishing touches on its National Action Plan for Sports Safety Tuesday at the fourth Youth Sports Safety Summit, then headed to Capitol Hill this morning to present it to congressional lawmakers. (Here’s my recap of Tuesday’s summit, for those who missed it.)

“Our prior summits provided the foundation for this National Action Plan—the critical next step that will help keep young athletes on the field and off the sidelines with chronic, catastrophic, or fatal conditions,” said James Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, in a statement. “These conditions can be largely prevented, managed, and treated if the right protocols are in place and properly trained medical personnel including athletic trainers are available to provide immediate care. Only 42 percent of U.S. secondary schools have access to athletic trainers.”

The plan lays out nine general recommended actions, including the three mentioned earlier, then dives into specific recommendations for four major injury areas: cardiac events, neurologic injuries, environmental/exertional conditions, and dietary/substance-induced conditions.

The cardiac-events section, for instance, recommends that schools train coaches and athletic officials in CPR and the use of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), requires every child to have a comprehensive pre-participation examination that includes questions on cardiac history, and requires venue-specific emergency action plans (EAPs) to be adopted and routinely rehearsed.

The neurologic-injuries section, whose work group I attended during Tuesday’s summit, also recommends a pre-participation evaluation for prospective student-athletes that includes baseline concussion testing when appropriate. It also suggests training teachers, school personnel, coaches, parents, student-athletes, and athletic officials about the signs and symptoms of concussions.

The “training teachers” aspect generated a healthy discussion in the work group. A number of advocates noted that just because a child is symptom-free from a concussion, there’s no guarantee that he or she has fully healed. (A study published in December in

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.