The Big 12 Conference has announced its policy for concussion diagnosis and management in the care of all student-athletes.
The policy, developed by team athletic trainers, physicians and medical support staff, was recently approved by the Big 12 Board of Directors.
"The Big 12 is fully committed to the health and welfare of its student-athletes," said Big 12 Board of Directors Chairman, and Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis. "The implementation of this policy, along with the Conference's previously announced initiatives for all programs to provide multi-year grants, grant-in-aid up to the full-cost of attendance, and the opportunity to return to campus to complete degree requirements for those that leave school early, speak volumes to our commitment level."
"Our membership has developed a comprehensive diagnosis and management policy that asserts the unchallengeable authority of medical practitioners in overseeing the welfare of our student-athletes in this very important area," added Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "This policy goes beyond what was approved during the recent NCAA Autonomy Governance, and puts all associated protocols where they belong; in the hands of trained medical staff."
Big 12 member institutions will be required to follow the NCAA's 2014 Inter-Association Consensus Guidelines for Concussion Diagnosis and Management. The protocol states that institutions should have on file a team physician-directed concussion management plan and the specific protocol for evaluation and management of a concussion. The plan will specifically outline the roles of athletics healthcare staff to include physicians, athletic trainers, physician assistants, neurologists, neuropsychologists and physical therapists.
Each year, institutions will educate student-athletes, coaches, team physicians, and athletics directors as to their responsibility for reporting any injuries and illnesses, including signs and symptoms for concussions to the institutional medical staff. During the review process student-athletes and coaches will be presented with educational material on concussions, and shall sign a statement confirming their receipt of such materials, as well as acknowledging their responsibilities for reporting their injuries and illnesses.
The guidelines will institute an assessment protocol in which appropriate baseline metrics be obtained to allow for post-injury comparative assessment at appropriate time intervals to monitor the recovery process. These will include objective assessment of signs and symptoms, neurocognitive function, and balance; and a systematic symptom guided return to play (RTP) progression.
The policy empowers the institution's medical staff to have the autonomy and the unchallengeable authority to determine management and return to play (RTP) of any ill/injured student-athlete, and ensures that no coach serve as the primary supervisor for any medical provider, nor have hiring, retention and dismissal authority over that provider.
A student-athlete exhibiting any signs or symptoms or behaviors consistent with concussion should be removed from practice/competition, and be evaluated by a medical provider with experience in the evaluation and management of concussion. The plan shall clearly state that a student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion be withheld and not be permitted to return to activity for the remainder of that day.
Each Big 12 member institution will be required to submit an updated concussion management plan annually to the Conference office, which will establish a plan to track potential unsafe plays (head to head contact, elbow to head or upper torso, etc.). In turn, Big 12 member institutions, in collaboration with the Conference office and game officials, will work collaboratively to better identify, deter, limit, and/or prevent such unsafe plays that can lead to concussions or more serious head and neck injuries.
Big 12 coaches and medical personnel will educate student-athletes about concussions, work to modify athlete techniques, and encourage safe play to help prevent injuries.