Concussion rules revised for teams using town facilities
The Parks and Recreation Commission, to conform with new state regulations on preventing concussions, has unanimously approved revisions to its athletics facility-use policy.
“This is strictly for outside-user groups,” said Jennifer Fava, the town’s new parks and recreation director, explaining at Thursday’s meeting that amendments to the current Policy for Use of Athletic Facilities for Youth Sport Acitivites mirror those being implemented by the state starting next year.
"It requires each organization to require that they’re teaching their coaches,” she said, regarding assessment of — and reaction to — concussions and potential concussions.
“This was brought up to the commission two other times,” said Chairman Charlie Haberstroh.
“The concern of the commission at the time was over what the legal liability of the concussion poicy was, given the fact that we have two different types of programs,” he said, one of which is run directly by the town and the other by outside groups.
“This only addresses the third-party (programs),” he said.
Officials have said the policy for Parks and Recreation Department-sponsored programs already meet the state’s standards.
Among the additions, which were crafted and presented by Karen Puskas, the parks and recreation program manager, is a requirement that each organization “certify to the town that they have provided a … statement regarding concussions to each youth athlete and … guardian,” that minimum training requirements being met by coaches, and that “each organization shall ensure that any youth athlete who shows signs, symptoms and/or behaviors consistent with a concussion from the activity … shall be immediately removed.”
“The athlete must be evaluated by a licensed health care professional educated in concussion management,” the policy goes on to say. “The athlete must receive written clearance from the health care professional for a full return to play.”
“They need to prove that they’re doing all that in order to get their permit, so really the onus is falling onto the outside user groups,” said Fava, who confirmed that the town attorney had given his approval for the policy revisions.
“Everybody has already started some kind of concussion education, so they’re really positive about it,” Puskas said, noting that she had reached out to the major groups in town that run programs, but only the Police Athletic League had expressed significant interest in being involved with drafting the revisions.
“People are really just waiting for us to do something, to say, ‘Hey, here you go,’ ” Puskas said, asked if it would be worthwhile to seek further input from the groups before the commission votes on any changes.
“When we approve this, my next meeting will be with the Youth Sports Council to say let’s go forward … I don’t think it’s going to behoove us to put it off again, have it go around the table again,” she said.