By now, you probably know the facts about concussions, but do you have a plan to deal with them when they happen?

US Lacrosse in December released its first Concussion Management Plan guidelines, developed by the Sports Science and Safety Committee. The NCAA already requires colleges and universities to have a concussion management plan document in place. US Lacrosse is one of the first national sports organizations to provide such guidelines for high school and youth programs.

Here are eight takeaways from the guidelines, which can be found in their entirety at USLacrosse.org/Safety. If you’re a more visual learner, skip down to the printable concussion infographic below.

1. It starts with a plan.

“This should be a process that provides parents, coaches, athletes and league administrators with educational information about concussions, including signs and symptoms, possible prevention, treatment and return-to-activity protocols,” said Bruce Griffin, director of health and sport safety at US Lacrosse.

2. Communicate your plan.

Preseason meetings are a great time to deliver your CMP and educate parents and coaches. What is a concussion? What are the symptoms? An athlete could feel “pressure” in the head, have nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light or noise and concentration or memory problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s lacrosse-specific Heads Up materials. Coaches should register and complete the NFHS/CDC Concussion in Sports online program.

3. Yank ‘em.

Athletes showing signs of a concussion should be removed from play immediately and screened by a healthcare professional. If diagnosed, the player should not return to activity that day and should be referred to a physician.

4. Rest ‘em.

A gradual return can start after an athlete has been cleared with written documentation by a healthcare professional. Athletes should also get support from their school for classes, exams or other cognitive functions. Working the brain, be it through mobile device or computer use, during concussion recovery is like running on an injured leg.

5. Return-to-play protocol.

Consider past medical history, as well as how the athlete responds along the way. Here’s a sample progression:

  1. Rest
  2. Return to school, non-athletic activities
  3. Begin aerobic exercise
  4. Light sport-specific training, like catching and throwing
  5. Non-contact drills
  6. Controlled full-contact scrimmage
  7. Full return, ready for games.

6. Establish a baseline.

Implement baseline tests for athletes that ideally include a physical and review of prior injuries. It may be useful to include neuropsychological testing, but only by those experienced in interpreting such tests. The information should be managed by the athlete’s healthcare provider.

7. Create an emergency action plan.

Have an emergency action plan in place for game and practice venues. If a players loses consciousness, shows signs of serious brain or spine injury, are proper procedures in place?

8. Enforcement.

“League leaders should openly and unequivocally state their support for the plan, with strict adherence to the reporting, removal from play and educational requirement,” Griffin said.

Concussion Awareness

Access additional resources from US Lacrosse about concussion injuries and prevention below.

CONCUSSION AWARENESS RESOURCES