According to a Levittown Patch report, the Levittown School District is one of the first districts on Long Island to comply with Senator Kemp Hannon's "Concussion Management and Awareness Act," which took effect July 1.
The new law requires coaches, physical education teachers and other appropriate school personnel to be trained about the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries and the importance of proper medical treatment.
It also requires the State Education Department, the Department of Health, and school districts to post information on their websites for parents and students on how brain injuries occur, the signs and symptoms of such injuries, and guidelines about returning to school, physical education classes and sports after an injury.
The Levittown School District will be taking steps towards evaluating concussions with an "Impact" test.
During the Levittown Board of Education meeting on July 25, Dr. Sal Trazzera detailed the new initiative. "Impact is the most widely-used neurocognitive test...it basically tests brain function," Trazzera said. "It's about a 30 minute test that's done on a computer...we can do it in any computer lab on multiple students at a time. It's easily proctored, self-explanatory, and it's a standard tool used in the management of concussions by athletes of all ages."
Levittown District Athletic Director Keith Snyder added that the school will be rolling out the program in the fall. "We're going to test it out on the football team first, since they tend to take the heaviest hits," Snyder said. "As for the other teams we're going to be administering the Impact test to, the Board of Education has to decide."
In my view, lacrosse and soccer would be obvious picks, besides football, for the new "Impact" study in Levittown. There is plenty of full body contact in lacrosse, and even top-quality helmets don't always protect student-athletes from going down with season-ending concussions.
Hannon's act was a long time coming.
With so much new information emerging about the long-term health impacts of concussions to youth league athletes, this move was a must. It gives coaches better training on warning signs of traumatic brain injuries, and helps parents and athletic staff determine when would be the appropriate time for an athlete to return to the field.
I believe the next step would have to be the evaluation of football and lacross helmets, as that is clearly a key factor in concussion prevention.
Better helmets would obviously limit the amount of concussions suffered by student-athletes. Hannon's bill was a step in the right direction, but there's so much more that needs to be done.
Hopefully Long Island schools will, in the near future and if budgets allow, take a look at emerging helmet technologies that prevent concussions.
Researchers at Virginia Tech recently determined which football helmet models were best at preventing concussions by putting 120 impacts of varying energies and at multiple points on various helmets.
Schools in the New York area should use this information when purchasing new equipment for football teams if they hope to ever cut down on the concussion crisis that plagued the game for decades.
Eric Holden has been covering Long Island high school sports since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.