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Concussion Safety

Concussion and Head Injury Policy

The athletic policy as it pertains to concussions is supported by two governing bodies, the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the National Federation of High School Sports, Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and is in compliance with District of Columbia’s Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011.


Proper management of concussion is the best form of prevention of serious injury. Most important is prevention of Second Impact Syndrome – a catastrophic increase in intracranial pressure which can result in massive brain swelling, herniation, and/or death. This syndrome occurs in athletes up to 14 days post-concussion and when an athlete returns to competition prior to the complete resolution of initial symptoms. Therefore, the following policy is used by DCPS:

  • Any athlete diagnosed with any symptom of concussion is removed from participation immediately and disqualified from activity for that day.

  • Following the injury, all concussions are evaluated by the athletic trainer and referred for further medical evaluation by a physician if warranted.

  • Stepwise return to play, supervised by athletic trainer/designee, and according to the concussion protocol

  • An athlete with two concussions per season will be removed from contact sports for the remainder of that season. Return to play will require neurocognitive testing and approval by a physician.

  • An athlete with a history of three or more concussions is highly recommended to avoid contact sports. Participation will require neurocognitive testing and be at the discretion of a physician.

DCIAA High School Soccer Championships T
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The DCIAA’s 1st Ever Middle School Footb

Concussion Protocol

  1. No physical activity; rest until asymptomatic for a minimum of 48 hours

  2. Once asymptomatic, light aerobic exercise

  3. Progress from light aerobic exercise to moderate exercise

  4. Progress from moderate exercise to non-contact sport specific exercise

  5. Progress to full contact practice

  6. Return to Play/Competition, at discretion of the athletic trainer (neurocognitive testing will also be used to assess return-to-play)

Note: Any recurrence of concussive symptoms at any step will lead to the athlete dropping back to step 1.

IMPACT Testing

DCPS Athletic Health Care Services is now implementing ImPACT software as our neurocognitive testing tool, which has proven to be helpful in protecting athletes and supporting their safe return to play. This program involves pre-season testing of athletes, to obtain a baseline measurement of neurocognitive function. All athletes with suspected head injury are then retested to quantify the degree of injury, and are not allowed to return to play until measurements are at baseline. Written parental consent must be obtained prior to baseline testing. In cases where ImPACT testing is not available, we will continue to use the SCAT2 (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) as an objective evaluation tool.

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