A new law is now on the books concerning student athletes. Beginning this school year, all school districts are required to give coaches, student athletes, and parents of student athletes, a concussion information sheet. That sheet must then be signed by the student athlete's parent before the student can participate in any school sports. If a concussion is suspected during a practice or a game, certain safety precautions are now mandatory.
"If a student athlete is suspected of sustaining a concussion, they have to be pulled out by the coach, or by the athletic trainer, or a physician, or a physician's assistant, or a nurse practitioner." says Joyce Davis, the Executive Director for the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina.
Then they can only return to play that day if the evaluation doesn't reveal any signs of a concussion. If it seems like the student does have a concussion, they can only be given the go-ahead by a medical doctor.
"If they feel like the student has sustained a concussion, he cannot return to play until he is cleared by a physician." explains Davis.
One thing the new law does not require is any kind of specific concussion training for coaches or athletic trainers. However, it doesn't seem to be a big problem because so much training is already required.
"All coaches had to take a concussion course online through the National Federation High School and a heat acclimation couse before they could be out here too." says Coach Aldridge, the Head Coach for Spring Valley's Varsity football team.
And sometimes experience is enough to let coaches know when a player needs to be handed over.
"I send them straight to a trainer when they give any symptoms of dizziness or not knowing where they're at. And sometimes when you hear a hit you can kind of tell, you better go check that guy, make sure he's okay." explains Aldridge.
Those athletic trainers are also required to complete extensive training to look at the players to see if there is a problem.
"Well an athletic trainer, a certified athletic trainer, has gotten the training. They're trained in diagnosing sprains, concussions, the whole gammit." says Davis.
DHEC is also supposed to put training opportunities on their website for other medical professionals that want to be further educated in the area of concussions. And these opportunities are definitely being taken advantage of by those at the schools.
"The school professionals want the information. They want to do the right thing to protect the students...student athletes." states Davis.