Local school districts affected by a new UIL directive on reporting concussions are preparing for their new responsibilities.
The UIL is having the large 6-A districts provide information on student-athletes who suffer concussions. That information will ultimately be used to help improve prevention and treatment plans. The UIL is calling it a trial program which goes into effect the next school year.
The hope is to collect enough concussion data from the 6-A athletes to make the reporting mandatory for all public school in the state in the near future.
For student-athletes, the focus is on the game. Parents in the stands on Thursday cheered on their freshman boys as WT White takes on Duncanville.
Both are 6-A schools, which means starting next school year their coaches must report all concussions to the UIL.
Corey Eaton is the assistant athletic director of sports medicine for Dallas ISD. Up until the new UIL mandate which came out on Monday, DISD only shared concussion information internally.
“We did not do it just because of logistics of approval from the parents,” Eaton said. “So we have not volunteered our information.”
Beginning in 2019, staff at 6-A schools will now have to answer more than a dozen questions on each player who suffers a concussion. That information will be shared with the UIL and researchers with the Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“It's all about prevention and treatment. It's about having the right kind of information about your concussion,” said UIL Deputy Director Jamey Harrison. “Did it happen at a practice or at a game? Was it a sport that requires a helmet or not? Did the student come into contact with another student or the ground?”
Armed with that information, researchers can determine the frequency of concussions and possibly make changes in rules, safety or equipment to help minimize future injuries.
There's a range of penalties a school could be subject to should they not report concussions to the UIL. For right now, the new mandate only applies to 6-A schools.