GLOVERSVILLE - Local schools are working on complying with a new statewide ruling aimed at preventing recurrent injuries from concussions.
The Concussion Management and Awareness Act went into effect July 1. Student athletes, gym teachers, nurses, athletic directors and coaches who guide young players must adhere to the act's requirements.
The policy affects all New York public and charter school students who play competitive sports.
Three requirements must be followed by school districts throughout the state.
First, districts must ensure completion every two years, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, of an approved course on concussion management by every school coach, physical education teacher, nurse and athletic trainer.
Second, each parent or guardian of a student athlete must receive information about concussion management and sign a form acknowledging receipt of it when the adult signs the parental permission form.
Third, any student who is believed to have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, the act states, is to be immediately removed from athletic activities. Students will not be allowed to resume athletic activity "until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours and have been evaluated by and received written and signed authorization from a licensed physician."
"For interscholastic athletics, clearance must come from the school medical director," according to the new mandate.
This authorization must be kept in the student's permanent health record. School officials must follow medical directives involving care issued by the student's treating physician.
The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education is developing a written concussion management policy.
The policy, which can be specific to the school, will include post-concussion management such as rest. Also, a Concussion Management Team may be formed to implement and guide the policy's program.
"It's a brain injury. You can't see a brain injury," Mike DeMagistris, Gloversville's athletic director, said in regard to concussions.
DeMagistris said about 850 girls and boys in grades seven through 12 participate in school sports.
About eight students were diagnosed with concussions this past school year, he said.
Parents and players need to be aware of how serious a concussion is, he said.
"A referee or a coach might see something that a parent might not see," DeMagistris said.
The crafting of the state requirements began at least two years ago, said Linda Bakst, policy expert for the New York State School Boards Association.
Members of the state's Public High School Athletic Association met with the state school boards group to discuss making school districts more aware of concussion management.
Nationally, reports of high-profile professional football and hockey players committing suicide or experiencing lifetime brain and cognitive functioning injuries thrust concussion injuries into the spotlight.
Bakst and other members of the association can help school districts understand the act. School district education and athletic officials are aware of its importance, she said.
"Most are aware of the need to do this and are taking the responsibility very seriously." said Bakst.
An understanding of the law is needed so everybody knows what is expected or required, Bakst said.
"There has to be this real effort to make the kids feel comfortable and not to be afraid to come forward," Bakst said.
Information also can be found at www.nyssba.org