Last week, in partnership with the Concussion Legacy Foundation, US Lacrosse announced a new initiative to enhance concussion safety and awareness. In short, “Team Up Speak Up” challenges all coaches to deliver a one-minute speech to their players urging them to tell a coach or athletics trainer if they suspect that a teammate has a concussion.
Looking out for the welfare of a teammate is a great step to take in changing the concussion culture on a team, but it’s far from being the only needed step.
Equally as important, if not more so, is the development of a Concussion Management Plan by teams, leagues, and programs to document how these injuries will be dealt with, should they occur. Critical elements to incorporate in the plan include education guidelines, identified signs and symptoms for removing an athlete from play, and a return to school and return to play protocol.
To assist coaches, parents and program leaders in the development of a Concussion Management Plan (CMP), US Lacrosse provides guidelines based on national and international research and consensus statements. Further, US Lacrosse recommends that each locally developed CMP involve consultation with a physician trained in the evaluation and management of concussion.
“As the national governing body of lacrosse, we’re fortunate to have the outstanding leadership of national and international experts to help guide our policies and best practices for game safety and injury prevention,” said Dr. Bruce Griffin, director of the Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse. “They serve as a great resource for the lacrosse community.”
Head injuries, including concussion, continue to be a concern in youth sports, with concussions ranking among the five most frequent injuries for both boys and girls high school lacrosse players. It’s also important to understand that no current helmet can prevent concussions. Helmet and headgear standards in both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse are designed to reduce the risk of severe brain injury and skull fracture, not to prevent concussion.
The time for developing a plan, or reviewing an existing plan for needed updates, is now. The preseason is upon us. Equipment is being ordered. Fields are being secured. Get your CMP in order and ready for the new season ahead.
“Making sure your team or league has a concussion management plan is a big part of responding to head injury to help athletes recover and return to life,” Griffin said.