School sports adopting concussion protocol
High school coaches required to take safety course
Starting this year, School Sports Newfoundland and Labrador has mandated a concussion policy for its coaches. One coach from each team is required to complete a concussion course in hopes of better preparing them should one of their players suffer a blow to the head during play.
High school coaches in this province are arming themselves with another tool to help deal with the threat of concussions and head injuries.
School Sports NL (SSNL) introduced a mandatory concussion course for coaches who run teams in sports recognized by the provincial body. At least one coach from each team must have the course completed before a team is allowed to participate in regional or provincial tournament play.
“This is just an extra safety precaution we’re taking this season,” said SSNL executive director Karen Richard. “We’re trying to make the safest environment possible for the players.”
“It’s a move in the right direction,” said Ascension Collegiate coach Trevor Dixon. “It’s all about education and awareness.”
In order to take the 20-30 minute course, coaches are required to visit www.schoolcoach.ca and register for the applicable session. Richard said the course was offered to coaches in the past, but this is the first time coaches have been required to complete it before stepping on a bench.
“We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from coaches who have done it,” she said. “They said it was timely and they found it really helpful. The more education you can get the better.”
In the last several years, concussions have been the buzzword when it comes to sports both in the media and amongst fans.
It was just last month that Benn Hamm, a high school football player in Oklahoma, died after sustaining a head injury in a game.
“It’s a good idea, especially for new people to the issue,” Laval High School coach Michael Gambin said. “It’s good to refresh your knowledge. (Concussions) are so prevalent now.”
Gambin coaches softball, ice hockey and ball hockey at the Placentia-based school.
Ed Jarvis is the coach of the female basketball team at Carbonear Collegiate. It is not a sport known for its concussions, but they can happen. He dealt with two last season that kept players out for weeks.
“You have to take any blow to the head seriously,” he said. “You can’t mess around with head injuries. If it does happen, I’d like to know that I did everything I could.”
A study conducted by the Canadian Pediatric Society in 2012 found concussions account for nine to 12 per cent of all high school injuries.
Amongst children aged 10 to 14, 53.4 per cent of head injuries were concussions. That number dipped slightly to 42.9 per cent for athletes between the ages of 15 and 19.
While the study is three years old, those numbers likely still hold some value.
“It’d be interesting to see the stats on effects of head injuries over time,” said Gambin.
Keeping them out
High school athletes, just like their professional cousins, are inclined to stay in the game after taking a knock to the head.
“The big thing is to play it safe and keep them out,” said Dixon. “If you have any doubt, keep them out of the game. Generally, it is something they’re going to take a while to get over.
”A lot of the time, it’ll take them a week, two weeks to get over it, whatever the case may be.”
For now, coaches must sit in front of a computer to take the course, but Gambin suggests another method might be more effective.
“It’d be better if it was a faceto-face thing,” he said. “It’s a good start. Coaches need the knowledge. There are different signs and I definitely learned something.”
“It’s a nice thing to have in your back pocket,” said Jarvis. “It’s more about being aware and proactive. You hope you never have to use it.”
Carbonear Collegiate female basketball coach Ed Jarvis, seen here in a file photo, understands the seriousness of head injuries. Last season, two of his players had to stay away from the hardcourt for several weeks while recuperating from concussions.