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NJSIAA Concussion Guidelines Among Strictest in Country

Requires 12-day minimum waiting period before return to play after concussion

The concussion identification, management and return-to-play policy statement of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) is among the strictest in the country, requiring a 12-day minimum return-to-play waiting period for any athlete suspected of having suffered a concussion.

The NJSIAA, which is the governing body for high school athletics in New Jersey, recommends that its member schools require:

  • Mandatory concussion education forms. Before the start of each school year, student-athletes (including cheerleaders) and their parents, will be given a concussion information sheet and required to sign a copy of the form along with all pre-participation physical examination forms, acknowledging receipt.
  • Annual training: Athletes, coaches and athletic trainers must undergo annual training about concussions, including awareness of symptoms, and show proof of satisfactory completion of that training. [The NJSIAA acknowledged the key role ATCs play in any concussion education and management program]
  • Removal from play/medical evaluation
    • Immediate removal from play of athletes (a) suspected of having suffered a concussion; (b) who have sustained a concussion and/or (c) lost conciousness during an athletic event;
    • Medical evaluation (including use of symptom checklists, baseline and balance testing) to determine the presence/absence of concussion; and
  • Return to play guidelines. For those athletes diagnosed with a concussion, no return to play until:
    • The athlete completes a symptom-free week, followed by
    • Completion of a six-step graduated return-to-play exercise protocol  over a minimum of five days, during which time the athlete must be monitored for any recurrence of concussion symptoms, for a total minimum time before return to play of twelve days. 
      • If the student-athlete experiences a re-emergence of any post-concussion signs or symptoms once they return to play, they must stop playing and return to their primary care physician or team doctor for re-evaluation;
      • If concussion symptoms reoccur during the graduated return-to-play exercise protocol, the athlete must return to the previous level of activity that caused no symptoms and then advance to the next step as tolerated.

Source: http://www.njsiaa.org/NJSIAA/10ConcussionManagement.pdf (accessed 8/18/10 @ 4:58 p.m.)

Created August 18, 2010