Manatee School District strengthens concussion care policy for athletes

BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School Board passed an amendment to strengthen its concussion policy at Tuesday's meeting.

The policy objectives: "to proactively address the risk of head injuries to our student-athletes, to educate student-athletes and their parents to recognize the warning signs of possible head injury and to safeguard the health of our student-athletes, utilizing clinically proven, objective assessment tools and best practices related to safe post-injury return to activity."

The policy is for all schools in the county, said Cynthia Saunders, executive director of middle and high schools. Saunders and district staff attorney Mitch Teitelbaum wrote the policy. Former Coastal Orthopedics concussion specialist, Dr. Jeremy Ng, worked with local athletic trainers in originally crafting a concussion policy. That policy was scrapped at the last second , more than a year ago, Ng said.

Last October, parents of area high school athletes complained concussions weren't handled properly during the public comments section of a school board meeting.

Roughly 40 concussions were calculated at that point in the season, with most from football.

The new amended policy passed by 5-0 vote.

It includes various measures in handling concussion cases. Student-athletes will receive baseline testing, immediate post-concussion assessment and cognitive testing and a recovery period.

Common concussion signs include confusion, memory or concentration issues, dizziness, nausea/vomiting and loss of consciousness. Other symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, fatigue and sensitivity to light and noise.

Ng, who now works at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said private schools in the county have already had the policy in place with success.Ng also said the athletic trainers and Braden River High Principal Jennifer Gilray were a huge help in working with the school district to adopt the new policy.