WEST NEWBURY — Ensuring that head injuries are properly identified and treated before a student resumes athletic activities is the chief goal of the Pentucket High School’s Head Injury Policy.
At a Pentucket school board policy subcommittee meeting earlier this month, athletic director Dan Thornton explained the proactive approach his coaches are taking when it comes to managing the risk of head injuries. Coaches, parents and students all receive annual training in head injury education.
Coaches are instructed to immediately remove a student from play or practice if they know of or suspect a head injury has occurred. The certified athletic trainer or school nurse will be notified and will follow up with the student’s parents. Coaches or trainers stay with the athlete until the parents arrive. Students suspected of having a head injury are never allowed to drive themselves home or get a ride from a friend or another teammate.
“We say you are going with your mom or dad — or you are going in the ambulance,” Thornton said.
Following a diagnosed concussion by a health care provider, the student must submit to a post-injury test within 72 hours of the occurrence and be symptom free for 10 days before being allowed back on the playing arena.
All athletes must submit to baseline brain testing every two years. The computerized testing program involves a series of memory recognition questions, Thornton said. If a student becomes concussed during the season, he or she must be retested before resuming the sport.
Thornton said the testing provides the trainer with an invaluable baseline to work from when assessing potential health concerns in the future. He recalled a time last fall when a former Pentucket student athlete received a concussion while playing sports as a freshman at college. When the college trainer learned of Pentucket’s baseline testing policy, he immediately called Pentucket’s trainer to get information on the student’s results.