(BOSTON) — The Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a Boston-based non-profit organization founded to advance the study, treatment and prevention of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups, and Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league, have partnered to create an innovative comprehensive concussion program for the 2013 season.
The policies, developed by SLI Medical Director and concussion expert Robert Cantu, MD, and SLI Executive Director Chris Nowinski, combine best practices from peer sports leagues while adding new elements focusing on education, reporting, assessment and management.
MLL Commissioner David Gross said, “Concussions are a critical issue in sports today. We asked SLI, the experts in the field, to develop the most aggressive program in professional sports so that we can protect our players’ long-term health, ensure longevity of their careers and set a strong example for youth and college sports programs to make concussion care and training a priority.”
Innovations in the MLL concussion program include:
· Education: To accelerate culture change, MLL players will participate in two educational sessions, one before and one during the season, as well as be required to complete an online training program and view the documentary Head Games. Coaches, general managers, referees and medical personnel will all be required to meet a minimum educational standard.
· Remove-from-play: MLL will become the first professional sports organization to mandate the King-Devick test — an objective rapid sideline screening test of concussions that a growing body of studies show is an effective test for concussion — as an additional sideline assessment tool.
· Concussion Check: A new concept developed by SLI, MLL will pilot a program designed to improve concussion reporting by training MLL personnel to recognize concussion signs and symptoms and emphasize that they have a responsibility to alert the team medical staff or referee. If a teammate, coach, general manager, athletic trainer, physician/doctor, equipment manager, opposing team physician or referee triggers a concussion check, the player must be removed and evaluated by the medical team using the new MLL Sideline Assessment Tool.
· Concussion Caretaker: A new concept developed by SLI, when a player is diagnosed with a concussion, MLL medical staffs will educate at least one family member and/or caretaker, designated by the player before the season, on concussion management and how to support an athlete recovering from a concussion.
· Research: MLL will encourage teams to participate in innovative research, including participating in the SLI Hit CountTM Initiative, and encouraging players to participate in research programs, including the brain donation program at the Boston University Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Cantu, who serves as an advisor to the National Football League, National Football League Players Association, Ivy League and co-author of every International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport, said, “We’re excited about the opportunity to raise the bar and pilot new concepts and look forward an exciting MLL season.”
Nowinski said, “We’re thrilled that Major League Lacrosse is committed to providing the safest possible environment for athletes as well as setting an example for all sports organizations that there is no greater priority than ensuring the neurological health and safety of players.”