• concussions

    Deer Valley Unified School District- “Athletic Department Protocol and Procedures for Management of Sports-Related Concussion”


    Medical management of sports-related concussion is evolving. In recent years, there has been a significant amount of research into sports-related concussion in high school athletes. Deer Valley Unified School District has established this protocol to provide education about concussion for athletic department staff and other school personnel. This protocol outlines procedures for staff to follow in managing head injuries, and outlines school guidelines as it pertains to return to play issues after concussion.

     Deer Valley Unified School District seeks to provide a safe return to activity for all athletes after injury, particularly after a concussion. In order to effectively and consistently manage these injuries, procedures have been developed to aid in ensuring that concussed athletes are identified, treated and referred appropriately, receive appropriate follow-up medical care during the school day, including academic assistance, and are fully recovered prior to returning to activity.

    In addition to recent research, three (3) primary documents were consulted in developing this protocol. The “Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport, held in Zurich, November 2012” (referred to in this document as the Zurich Statement), the “National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Management of Sport-Related Concussion” and “ National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Management of Sport Concussion” (referred to in this document as the NATA Statements).  

    This protocol will be reviewed on a yearly basis, by the DVUSD sports medicine staff with input from the team physician.  Any changes or modifications will be reviewed and given to athletic department staff and appropriate school personnel in writing. 

    All coaching staff will complete National Federation of High Schools Concussions in Sports Course, with documentation on file with the athletic department and review relevant athletic injury sections in DVUSD Coaches Handbook on a yearly basis.    

    Athletes and parents will complete required concussion education components per Arizona Interscholastic Association Bylaws as part of the yearly athletic clearance packet.  It is strongly recommended that all athletes complete concussion baseline testing, either at their school or approved provider.


    1. Recognition of concussion           
    2. Management and referral guidelines for all staff
    3. Procedures for the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC)
    4. Return to play procedures
    5. Deer Valley Unified School District Compliance Signature


    1. Recognition of concussion  
    1. Common signs and symptoms of sports-related concussion
      1. Signs (observed by others):
    • Athlete appears dazed or stunned
    • Confusion (about assignment, plays, etc.)
    • Forgets plays
    • Unsure about game, score, opponent
    • Moves clumsily (altered coordination)
    • Balance problems
    • Personality change
    • Responds slowly to questions
    • Forgets events prior to hit
    • Forgets events after the hit
    • Loss of consciousness (any duration)
      1. Symptoms (reported by athlete):
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Double vision, blurry vision
    • Sensitive to light or noise
    • Feels sluggish
    • Feels “foggy”
    • Problems concentrating
    • Problems remembering


    These signs and symptoms are indicative of probable concussion. Other causes for symptoms should also be considered.

    1.  Cognitive impairment (altered or diminished cognitive function). 
      1. General cognitive status can be determined by simple sideline cognitive testing.
        1. Days of the week in reverse
        2. 100 – 3
        3. Months in reverse
        4. Addition of money

    1. Management and Referral Guidelines for Coaching Staff


    1. Recognize concussion
      1. All coaches should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of concussion that are described in section I


    1. Remove from activity
      1. If a coach suspects the athlete has sustained a concussion, the athlete should be removed from activity until evaluated by a medical professional.
        1. Any athlete who exhibits signs or symptoms of a concussion should be removed immediately, assessed, and should not be allowed to return to activity that day.


    1. Refer the athlete for medical evaluation  
      1. Any athlete with a witnessed loss of consciousness (LOC) will be referred to advanced medical care.  This can include Athletic Trainer, Team Physician, EMS, Urgent Care, and Emergency Room.  Symptoms will used determine best medical treatment.  


      1. Any athlete who has symptoms of a concussion, and who is not stable (i.e., condition is changing or deteriorating), is to be transported immediately to the nearest emergency department by EMS personnel.


      1. An athlete who exhibits any of the following symptoms should be transported immediately to the nearest emergency department, by EMS personnel.
        1. Deterioration of neurological function
        2. Decreasing level of consciousness
        3. Decrease or irregularity in respirations
        4. Decrease or irregularity in pulse
        5. Unequal, dilated, or unreactive pupils
        6. Any signs or symptoms of associated injuries, spine or skull fracture, or bleeding
        7. Mental status changes: lethargy, difficulty maintaining arousal, confusion or agitation
        8. Seizure activity
        9. Cranial nerve deficits


      1. An athlete who is symptomatic but stable, may be transported by his or her parents.  Advise parents to observe symptoms (can provide CDC Heads Up Parent form), if symptoms deteriorate, seek medical attention with Primary Care Physician or Emergency Department immediately.  Otherwise follow up with Athletic Trainer the following day or next school day.
        1.  ALWAYS give parents the option of emergency transportation, even if you do not feel it is necessary.
        2.  Student can report to School Nurse during the school day if symptoms increase.
        3.  School Nurse will share information with the Athletic Trainer.


      1. Coaches should report all head injuries to the DVUSD Certified Athletic Trainer (AT), and/or Athletic Director as soon as possible, for medical assessment and management, and for coordination of home instructions and follow-up care.


      1. Coaches should seek assistance from the host site AT if at an away contest.
        1.  High School Sports Medicine Volunteers are not allowed to evaluate or make recommendations regarding any injury.
        2.  Any head injury needs to be communicated by the coach or Host AT with parents as soon as possible, regardless if parent is in attendance or not. 


      1. If the DVUSD AT is unavailable, or the athlete is injured at an away event w/ out access to an AT, the coach is responsible for notifying the athlete’s parents of the injury. 
        1. Contact the parents to inform them of the injury and make arrangements for them to pick the athlete up at school.
        2. Contact the AT so that follow-up can be initiated.
        3. Remind the athlete to report directly to the AT after school before sport session on the day he or she returns to school after the injury.
        4. Student can report to School Nurse or Athletic Trainer during the school day if symptoms worsen.


      1. In the event that an athlete’s parents cannot be reached, and the athlete is able to be sent home (rather than directly to MD):
        1. The Coach or AT should insure that the athlete will be with a responsible individual, who is capable of monitoring the athlete and understanding the home care instructions, before allowing the athlete to go home.
        2. The Coach or AT should continue efforts to reach the parent.
        3. If there is any question about the status of the athlete, or if the athlete is not able to be monitored appropriately, the athlete should be referred to the emergency department for evaluation. A coach or AT should accompany the athlete and remain with the athlete until the parents arrive.
        4. Athletes with suspected head injuries should not be permitted to drive home.


    III. Procedures for the Certified Athletic Trainer (AT)

    1. The AT will assess the injury.
      1. Immediate referral to the team physician or the athlete’s primary care physician or to the hospital will be made when medically appropriate (see section II).


      1. Without immediate referral action taken, the Athletic Trainer will notify the athlete’s parents and give written and/or verbal home and follow-up care instructions. 


    1. The AT or team physician have the option to utilize neuropsychological testing for post concussion assessment.
      1. If neuropsychological testing is used, repeat post-concussion tests will be given at appropriate intervals, dependent upon clinical presentation.


      1. Team Physician or AT will review neuropsychological scores and consultation.


      1. The AT will monitor the athlete during the recovery time. (Athlete attendance is required for this) 


      1. The AT and treating physician are responsible for monitoring recovery & coordinating the appropriate return to play activity progression.


      1. The AT will maintain appropriate documentation regarding assessment and management of the injury.


    1. Returning to participate on the same day of injury
      1. As previously discussed in this document, an athlete who exhibits signs or symptoms of concussion, or has abnormal cognitive testing, will not be permitted to return to play on the day of the injury. Any athlete who denies symptoms but has abnormal sideline cognitive testing will be held out of activity.  Reference Arizona Senate Bill 1521, Arizona Revised Statutes §15-341.


      1. “When in doubt, hold them out.”


    1. Return to play after concussion
      1. The athlete must meet all of the following criteria in order to progress to activity:
        1. Asymptomatic at rest and with physical exertion (including mental exertion in school) AND:
        2. Within neuropsychological test reliable change methodology from baseline to post-concussion testing AND (If neuropsychological testing is used and baseline is available):
        3. If student-athlete has been evaluated by a physician or AT has referred the athlete to a physician, they must have written clearance and be symptom-free and progress through gradual return to play progression. (It is recommended an athlete be cleared for progression to activity by a physician knowledgeable in sport related concussions, refer to ARS § 1521 ).
        4. Team Physician, in conjunction with the Athletic Trainer, has the final decision on all return to play.


      1. Once the above criteria are met, the athlete will be progressed back to full activity following a stepwise process, (as recommended by both the Zurich and NATA Statements), under the supervision of the AT.


      1. Progression is individualized, and will be determined on a case by case basis. Factors that may affect the rate of progression include: previous history of concussion, duration and type of symptoms, age of the athlete, and sport/activity in which the athlete participates. An athlete with a prior history of concussion, one who has had an extended duration of symptoms, or one who is participating in a collision or contact sport should be progressed more slowly.


      1. The athlete should see the AT daily for re-assessment and instructions until the athlete has progressed to unrestricted activity.