Bucks County Herald

Central Bucks focuses on head injuries

DANA M. ECKMAN

Central Bucks School District Superintendent John Kopicki introduced district Athletic Director Danielle Turner, who on Oct. 23 presented her findings and recommendations relative to concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) to the school board.

In August 2017 and most recently this past August, Karen and Doug Zegel spoke to the board about CTE. Mrs. Zegel is the founder of the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation, named for her son, who suffered from CTE. The Zegels are passionate about bringing awareness to the condition, and Turner said she met with them to talk about their concerns as part of her preparation for the presentation to the board in October.

Turner outlined procedures the district employs to prevent student injury and assist injured students in returning to the classroom. These practices are based upon PIAA rules and advice from partners at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Doylestown Hospital, St.
Mary Medical Center, The Center for Neuropsychology and Counseling, and the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU).

They include:

- Prevention - Impact testing, concussion education classes, and information shared with families through the Family ID web portal.

- Game Time/Practices - Athletic trainers and doctors test and diagnose student athletes who are or may be injured before returning them to the field of play.

- Post Concussion Support - In line with board policies 123 and 123.1, the district requires a doctor’s note and employs a five-day return to play policy.

- Educational Support - In partnership with BCIU, the district participates in the Brain Steps Program, which provides customized support for each student’s individual circumstances following a traumatic brain injury. School nurses, trainers, teachers, and coaches work together with parents and family physicians to help students return to school and play, safely.

Concussion management teams at the high schools aid student athletes who have suffered a concussion.

Turner was joined by experts in the field of research and treatment who work alongside CBSD staff, including Dr. Matthew Grady, a sports medicine physician at CHOP’s Center for Sports Medicine and Performance; Dr. Christina L. Master, a sports medicine pediatrician at CHOP with expertise in primary care sports medicine and brain injury medicine; Dr. James Stone of The Center for Neuropsychology and Counseling; and Sarah Krusen of The Bucks Country Intermediate Unit.

Both Dr. Grady and Dr. Master spoke extensively on the topic of youth sports and concussion, traumatic brain injury, and CTE. Dr. Master noted she considers Central Bucks’ work in this area as light-years ahead of many other districts in the area, the county, and the world, in that procedures are designed in a way that demonstrates that staff are “... very aware, caring and intentional in protecting the health and well-being of student athletes.”

Both she and Dr. Grady also discussed the challenges associated with making clear recommendations in this area, as the causes of CTE and the effects of concussion have not yet been clearly established, given research limitations.

Turner also outlined some additional recommendations for the board and administration’s consideration, including:

- More education for students, coaches, parents, and guardians on CTE and traumatic brain injury; consideration of athletic trainers at the middle school level;

- helmet technology investigation; and continued partnerships with local hospitals to continually evaluate and design good practice and procedures.

Kopicki noted that the district will engage in additional discussion about what can be done, beyond greater education and communication, to help prevent further injury or any injury of student athletes.

Later on this month, CTE and concussion will be the featured topic of Health Matters, a program produced as a partnership between CBTV and Doylestown Hospital.




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