One of the biggest risks facing school administrators can’t be found on the classroom, but rather on the field: many administrators around the country are worried sick about concussions and brain trauma stemming from football.
Some 170,000 schoolchildren are treated in emergency rooms every year for some variety of brain trauma, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Particularly troubling are cases of concussion affecting young brains, the effects of which may not be apparent for years or decades according to data assembled from studies of NFL players.
Software Stemming the Tide?
In 2016, a serious effort to improve monitoring and prevention of head trauma led to the rollout of the InjureFree software platform beginning in the Washington D.C. area. Created by former football player and coach Charlie Wund, now founder of the Agency for Student Health Research, the InjureFree system streamlines and digitizes the process for student accident reporting. Putting the reporting process online not only makes the documentation process easier, it also makes the records database more accessible for medical practitioners and researchers. Putting all the information online will help in the development of a strategy that will trim the risks inherent in school sports.
The documentation created by the InjureFree system also helps reduce liability risks of the school districts and their officials.
In a recent podcast (listen to it here), Wund identifies the biggest risks facing school administrators. Wund declares that everybody who works with student athletes must understand the laws governing liability as defined by their state. Staff members, coaches, volunteers, nurses, and doctors must be aware of the injury reporting protocol and follow it exactly. They must have also been required to obtain all the necessary certifications and training to recognize the signs of brain trauma or concussion.
The worst thing that could happen is that children are allowed to return to play too soon, only to suffer another head injury. “This is the kind of communication gap we try to solve. That is the risk that is out there in the reporting component,” said Wund.
Wund added that among the first things that have to be decided is to define what constitutes a reportable head injury and then to develop interventions that improve in performance over time.