Professionals put heads together to prevent concussions

Watch above: Trying to ensure children get enough exercise safely is the focus of new strategies around Saskatchewan. Meaghan Craig takes a look at what professionals in the Saskatoon Public School division are doing to prevent concussions.

SASKATOON – Physical activity for children remains a high priority when it comes to their overall health but playing sports can also come at a price. Data is currently being collected by Saskatoon Public Schools on the number of concussions occurring at school and steps are being taken to manage this type of brain injury.

By late January, Ontario schools will have an organized plan on how to deal with concussions. All 72 school boards will be required to have programs in place to educate parents, students, teachers and coaches about concussions and policies on how to handle them.

In Saskatchewan, the safety of students is a top priority and school divisions are responsible for ensuring that.

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“Under the Education Act, all school divisions are required to establish safety guidelines and protocols, as part of that they would develop physical education safety guidelines, those would include guidelines for students participating in sports as well as protocols for staff in the event of an injury,” said Brett Waytuck, executive director of student achievement and supports for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education.

Waychuck said safety guidelines and protocols are expected to be updated by each school division on a regular basis.

“We have very confidence that school divisions are developing that in consultation with teachers, coaches, students and parents to provide the requirements and supports that are necessary for the physical activities that are going on in that school division.”

According to prevention experts, the number of concussions that occur at school are difficult to track. What is known is 40 per cent of all head injuries among children age 10 to 14 occur during sports.

“As soon as the referee or the coach see that there’s a potential danger of a concussion, the medical staff is activated immediately and they are really our first go-to responders to walk us through exactly, what has happened, what some of the effects are and then we follow their guidelines as to what the next steps are,” explained Bruce Bradshaw, education superintendent with Saskatoon Public Schools.

This past summer all extracurricular coaches with the division went through concussion training and monitor all sports but particularly high risk concussion sports like football, wrestling and track and field are watched even closer.

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When a concussion is suspected during a game, Bradshaw explained that the student is removed from the game, medical treatment is sought and they will not compete until they are fit to do so.

“There’s a form that we ask the medical professionals to complete and they give us the guidelines for reintroducing the athlete but the athlete has to be at 100 per cent capacity or ability before they can return to play and typically they return to play to a practice, a safer situation before they would go right back into a game especially a contact sport,” said Bradshaw.

The school division hopes this will start a movement across the board and will be pushing for consistent programming in the province.

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