HOMESTEAD (KDKA) — Concussion was the topic of a meeting of more than 100 educators.

“Not [until] about five years ago did you see this level of change,” says Mark Lovell, PhD, Chairman and CEO of ImPACT Applications.

Teachers, coaches, trainers and administrators are learning about the new state law that takes effect July 1st.

The law says student athletes cannot play if they have concussion symptoms.

“Both the parents and the athletes will be required to do some reading on what a concussion is, what the symptoms are prior to the season,” says Lovell. “Headaches related to the injury, dizziness, nausea, certainly vomiting, balance problems, difficulties with concentration and focus.”

And they have to be cleared by a qualified medical professional to return.

Coaches are penalized for not following the rules.

“That person would get suspended, and if it happens again, could be essentially banned.”

Schools face challenges in developing a protocol to deal with the new law, including a concussion management team and communication procedures.

“The school nurse is critical, the athletic trainer, athletic director, the coaches, possibly an administrator and the guidance counselor,” lists Diana Malone, PhD, Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

Another challenge is the athletes themselves.

“A lot of it depends on players being honest, being open with you,” admits Highlands School District Coach, Scott Newell. “It’s also difficult to pick up on some of the warning signs.”

“I think you need to know your athlete, you have to try to get to know them,” advises athletic trainer Dave Tumbas. “Your preseason meetings, just being around them on the practice field helps.”

“When you question them specifically will essentially deny that they’re having these symptoms, and that’s difficult,” cautions Lovell. “That puts the coach and everybody in a really difficult situation.”

The law applies to all public and private schools. The rules go for all practices, scrimmages, cheerleading, club sports and other school sponsored activities.

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Allegheny Intermediate Unit

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