Micah Hallett and Colby Lee play for the Mount Desert Island High School football team this fall. In recent years, football coaches have been teaching rugby-style tackling techniques that are meant to protect the players' heads and reduce the risk of concussions. MDI school district officials are planning to include students in grades 5-8 participating in any extracurricular school athletics in the district's concussion policy. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY GUTRADT

Concussion risk in middle school

BAR HARBOR — Concussions are not just a risk for professional, college and high school athletes, acknowledges a policy revision being considered by the Mount Desert Island Regional School System board.

The policy on “Management of Concussions and Other Head Injuries” would stipulate that all students in grades five through 12 “participating in school sponsored extra-curricular athletic activities are required to participate in and complete concussion impact testing.”

The school system currently has a concussion management policy, which the board adopted in January, but it does not establish protocols for dealing with head injuries in students younger than ninth grade.

School board member Ingrid Kachmar asked that the policy committee look into having it apply to the middle school grades, as well.

“When we first started looking at this, I thought it was going to be grades seven and eight,” said Superintendent Marc Gousse. “But we have students all the way down to fifth grade who participate in cross-country.”

He said he and the policy committee consulted the school nurses and high school Athletic Director Bunky Dow about amending the policy to include the lower grades.

“They assured us that we presently have the resources in place to manage this,” he said.

Kachmar thanked the policy committee for crafting the policy revision, which the school board discussed Monday night and is expected to vote on in January.

“I think it’s a change that’s going to be great for all of our students,” she said.

Under the policy, each school’s coaches and athletic director “must undergo training in the identification and management of concussive and other head injuries prior to assuming their responsibilities … and shall be required to undergo refresher training every two years … .”

At the start of each school year, all students in grades five through 12 who will be participating in school-sponsored athletic activities, as well as their parents, will be provided information about the risks involved and “the dangers associated with continuing to participate when a concussion or other head injury is suspected.”

Students and parents also must be informed of the signs and symptoms of concussions and other head injuries, as well as the school’s protocols for “removal from the activity when a student is suspected of having sustained a concussion or other head injury,” evaluation of the possible injury and the student’s return to participation.

The policy further states that any student who is suspected of having sustained a head injury during a school-sponsored activity “must be removed from the activity immediately” and “shall be prohibited from further participation … until he/she has been evaluated and received written medical clearance to do so from a licensed health care provider who is qualified and trained in concussion management.”

If the policy revision is approved, the superintendent will appoint a district-wide concussion management team to make recommendations regarding its implementation.




Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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