The Safety in Youth Sports Act, which provides new guidelines and standards for managing concussions and traumatic brain injuries in student athletes, was introduced to coaches and team across Pennsylvania in 2012. Erin Reynolds, PsyD, a clinical neuropsychologist at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, previously discussed the specifics of the Act. Dr. Reynolds and the faculty and staff at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program believe that a well-managed concussion is the best form of prevention and a part of that is educating parents.
What are the major provisions of the Safety in Youth Sports Act?
The major provisions of the Safety in Youth Sports Act include new guidelines and standards for managing concussions and traumatic brain injuries in student-athletes. The Act states that:
- Coaches must immediately remove any student-athlete suspected of a concussion from play, with stiff penalties to those not in compliance
- Student-athletes cannot return to play until cleared, in writing, by an appropriate medical professional as defined in the Act
- Information regarding concussions provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of Education must be properly distributed to all student-athletes and their parents
How would you know if your school is complying with the Act?
It is critical that parents understand the major provisions of the Act and that they are proactive in ensuring their school is in compliance. All parents should receive information at the beginning of the season that must be signed and returned prior to the student-athlete’s participation. Schools are also encouraged to hold informational meetings prior to the start of each athletic season to discuss:
- Proper evaluation and management
- Information regarding preseason baseline testing
If this is not being offered, parents may request this through the school’s athletic department or by speaking with the Athletic Trainer.
If any parent suspects that the school is not in compliance with the Act, they are encouraged to address the issue directly, or to report the school to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and/or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
What kind of doctor should my child see if they have a concussion?
Seeking proper medical attention is an important step in your child’s recovery from concussion. While many pediatricians and primary care physicians do offer concussion management, this is a complex injury with many treatment considerations. The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program includes a multidisciplinary team of providers expertly trained in the evaluation and management of concussion. Our experts include:
- Primary care sports medicine physicians
- Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians
- Neurovestibular rehabilitation therapists
- Exertion physical therapists
- Athletic trainers working in the local school systems
In choosing a provider, it is important to understand the extent of their training in concussion management, along with the ancillary resources they have available to provide comprehensive treatment of this complex injury.