Concussion, Second Impact Syndrome, & Return to Play Criteria
Concussion and second impact syndrome are two potentially life-threatening conditions to which student-athletes, especially those involved in contact sports, are exposed. Concussion is a complex injury that is often one of the most difficult to evaluate and manage. Concussion is defined as a traumatic injury to the brain. These injuries usually result due to a direct blow to the head. They may also result due to rapid acceleration/deceleration of the head, thus causing jarring of the brain within the skull. Concussions usually result in a common set of symptoms which may include headache, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, excessive fatigue, and possible loss of consciousness. Concussions may also cause an alteration of cognitive functions including difficulty concentrating or remembering, and alterations in mood or emotions. These symptoms may be short-lived (lasting less than 30 minutes) or may linger for several days or weeks.
Second impact syndrome is a life-altering or deadly injury that results when an athlete suffers a second, often minor, head injury after returning to activity before the symptoms of a previous concussion have resolved. Most cases of second impact syndrome occur in individuals under the age of 18. Second impact syndrome is a serious condition that can be potentially fatal (50% mortality rate).
Return to Play Protocol
Duval County Public Schools considers concussions and second impact syndrome to be significant medical conditions. Therefore, any athlete who suffers a head injury during a game which results in symptoms consistent with those of a concussion, he/she will not be allowed to return to play for the remainder of that game. The injured athlete should be evaluated by the Athletic Trainer to appropriately document the injury and begin the referral process. Per state statute, any athlete suspected of having a concussion must be evaluated by a physician (MD or DO).
No student-athlete will be allowed to return to activity until all post-concussive symptoms have resolved. Concussed athletes must receive medical clearance from a licensed physician prior to being allowed to return to activity. Furthermore, these athletes must be released by our team physician.
Once the athlete is asymptomatic, has returned to normal classroom activity and presented the required FHSAA paperwork for post-concussion return to play, the athletic trainer will initiate a graduated (multi-day) return to participation process. This program is outlined on FHSAA form AT-18.
Should the athlete experience any recurrence of symptoms while undergoing this progression, they will not be allowed to return to activity until they can complete the progression symptom free.