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Cougar Sports Zone Concussion Management Policy

The Cougar Sports Zone (CSZ) has adopted a concussion management policy. Prior to each season, parents must read and electronically acknowledge the policy. The policy will be reviewed and edited as new research, school policy and state/national laws dictate.

A concussion is a brain injury that is characterized by an onset of impairment of cognitive and/or physical functioning, and is caused by a blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body with an “impulsive” force transmitted to the head.

Typical short-term symptoms include: headache, nausea, dizziness or balance problems, vision impairment, sensitivity to light or noise, feeling sluggish or drowsy, feeling “mentally foggy”, concentration or memory problems. A concussion can occur with or without loss of consciousness, and proper management is essential to the immediate safety and long-term future of the injured individual. Symptoms of a concussion can last days, weeks or even months.

The long-term effects of a concussion are rare but can occur after either a single or repetitive concussive event. Long-term symptoms can include depression, impaired memory, fatigue, sleep disturbances, concentration deficits and balance problems. Most athletes will recover completely as long as they do not return to play prematurely. The effects of repeated concussions can be cumulative, and after a concussion, there is a period in which the brain is particularly vulnerable to further injury. If an athlete sustains a second concussion during this period, the risk of permanent brain injury increases significantly and the consequences of a seemingly mild second concussion can be very severe, and even result in death (i.e., “second impact syndrome”). Therefore, it is imperative that athletes report any head injuries and/or concussion-like symptoms immediately to the Athletic Trainer, coach and/or parent.


- All CSZ coaches will be annually required to view a concussion education/awareness video.

- Any athlete with a suspected concussion will be removed from play by a coach, parent, official or medical personnel and further evaluated.  

- The Athletic Trainer will perform a series of tests on the sideline to assess the athlete’s symptoms, orientation, memory, concentration, balance/coordination, and neurologic function. The athlete should be monitored for deterioration for the first several hours.  

- An athlete who has been removed from play, evaluated and suspected to have a concussion shall not return to play that same day nor until evaluated by an appropriately licensed health care provider and a clearance note is on file with the CSZ Athletic Trainer.

- The CSZ Athletic Trainer will notify the athlete’s parents and give written and verbal home instructions.

-An athlete that exhibits any of the following symptoms will be referred the day of the injury to the Emergency Room for further evaluation; any loss of consciousness, post-traumatic amnesia, neurologic deficits, severe or deteriorating symptoms.

-Any athlete with a suspected concussion will be instructed to follow-up with their pediatrician, due to their age and rapidly developing brain. The athlete’s parents and pediatrician will have the responsibility of managing these injuries.

Neurocognitive testing

Neurocognitive baseline testing is another tool that can be used to help with the concussion management process. There are many different testing platforms available, none of which should be the sole decision making instrument in the concussion management process.  Families may choose to have out of pocket baseline testing done, but it will not be required to participate in CSZ activities. Please contact our CSZ Athletic Trainer, Shannon Winston, for more information regarding local testing options.

Return to Learn and Play

The cornerstone of concussion management is physical and cognitive rest and modification until symptoms resolve. Once the athlete has returned to their baseline symptom level, their healthcare provider should initiate a graded program of mental and physical exertion. Below is an example of a Return to Play Progression. Return to CSZ activities will be allowed only after a note is on file from a licensed healthcare provider.

An example of a Return to Play Progression:

1. Light aerobic exercise (stationary bike, swimming, etc. at <70% Max. Heart Rate)

2. Sport-specific training (running, throwing, catching, bodyweight exercises)

3. Non-contact training drills; weight lifting (non-contact practice)

4. Full-contact practice (controlled contact drills)

5. Gameplay (no activity restrictions)

*Note: If the athlete experiences post-concussion symptoms during any phase, they should stop activity, rest and resume the progression after 24 hours if symptom-free. All head injuries are unique and should be treated individually.


The above information was gathered from the most current research available: Consensus statement on concussion in sport – the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016.


Please contact Shannon Winston, ATC with any questions (swinston@collegiate-va.org).