A year ago, the SEC charged a small group of member presidents to begin the process of researching all that needed to be done to assure the safety of student-athletes from concussion-related injuries.
And after a year of evaluating available research, treatment guidelines, standard of care and analysis of post-concussion related issues, the Working Group on Concussions announced its official committee, mission and vision moving forward as the SEC Spring Meetings wrapped up in Destin.
Chairing the group is Ole Miss Rebels Chancellor Dr. Dan Jones, who is a physician and a Professor of Medicine at Ole Miss.
Also selected to serve on this important committee is Mississippi State Bulldogs team physician Dr. Robert Collins, Florida Gators team physician Dr. Jay Clugston, Vanderbilt Commodores co-director of Sports Concussion Center Dr. Allen Sills, Ole Miss associate professor of Neuropsychology William D. Mustain, PhD, Georgia Bulldogs athletic trainer Ron Courson, Alabama Crimson Tide athletic trainer Jeff Allen, plus SEC staff members Greg Sankey and David Knight.
And thanks to their hard work over the past 12 months, the following will be their mission and action plan moving forward:
- Constant Review of All 14 SEC institutional Concussion Management Plans
- Release of NCAA documents regarding concussions, including information for coaches and student-athletes detailing concussion symptoms, prevention techniques, and post-concussion management
- Release and Feedback of the Fall 2012 NFL Health & Safety Report which includes details of the following five pillars of the NFL’s player health and safety program: Health and Safety Culture, Advocacy, Safety Rules, Research, and Equipment;
- Use of the NFL Sideline Concussion Assessment Tool
- Strategic Partnership with Heads Up Concussion in Youth Sports report which details detection of concussions, symptoms, prevention techniques, and post-concussion action plan
- Immediate Implementation of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Position Statement on Concussion in Sport which provides an evidence-based best practices summary to assist physicians
- Adopted the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement on Concussion in Sport which provides research regarding the recognition of concussions, evaluation and return-to-play decisions, concussion assessment tools, the role of the physician, and equipment issues
- Mandated the American Academy of Neurology Position Statement on Concussion in Sport which provides recommendations for policy measures that promote high quality, safe care of individuals participating in contact sports
But despite these great steps, SEC Commissioner Mike Silva knows they are still far from a finished product, and ultimately the NCAA has to take the lead on this topic of safety.
“There is much work to be done, and while the Conference has a role to play, prevention and treatment of concussion injuries is a national concern that needs and deserves a coordinated national effort… for this reason, the Presidents and Chancellors will make a formal request that the NCAA take the lead in organizing and spearheading a national research effort and examining possible revisions to playing rules in football and other sports.”
The NCAA did take a huge step back in October of 2012 as it named its first-ever Chief Medical Officer in Dr. Brian Hainline. The SEC Committee consulted directly with Hainline in their planning and have him as direct adviser.
So as the 2013 college football season nears, get ready for a big push by the SEC and all major conferences under the direction of the NCAA to promote youth safety, and highlight steps each institution is taking to make its student-athletes and sports safer.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.
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