A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that interferes with normal brain function. An athlete does not have to lose consciousness (be “knocked out”) to have suffered a concussion. Medical advances over the past decade, along with a national emphasis on raising awareness about concussions, have enabled sport organizations, including the IHSA, to draft or revise rules and policies aimed at player safety in all sports that reflect this growing body of information. Proper concussion management is not the responsibility of one person or group; rather, it is the shared responsibility of various stakeholders involved with athletic participation.
IHSA member schools:
- Shall not allow a student to participate in interscholastic athletic activities until the student and the student's parent or guardian have turned in a form approved by the IHSA that explains concussion prevention, symptoms, treatment, oversight, and includes guidelines for safely resuming participation following a concussion.
- Shall appoint a Concussion Oversight Team (COT) which will establish both Return to Play (RTP) and Return to Learn (RTL) protocols based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence for a student's return following a force or impact believed to have caused a concussion.
- Shall remove a student from interscholastic athletic practice or competition immediately if it is believed that the student may have sustained a concussion
- Shall not allow a student to return to practice or competition following a possible concussion until the student has completed the school's RTP protocols.
- Shall ensure that student-athletes watch the IHSA Concussion video at least once during the school year.
- Shall successfully complete an approved program on concussion management prior to beginning their coaching responsibilities and then every two years thereafter. The IHSA shall make educational materials available at no charge to coaches through its sports medicine website.
- Shall immediately remove from participation or competition any athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury.
- Shall not allow an athlete who has been removed from participation or competition because of a suspected concussion or head injury to return to participation or competition until the athlete has met the school's RTP protocols.
- Shall annually review, sign, and return to the school, a concussion and head injury information sheet prior to initiating practice or competition.
- Shall notify a coach if the athlete or a teammate exhibits signs or symptoms of a possible head injury.
- Shall abide by the RTP and RTL protocols of his/her school.
- Shall view the IHSA Concussion video at least once during the school year.
- Shall annually review, sign, and return to the school, a concussion and head injury information sheet that includes guidelines for safely resuming participation in an athletic activity prior to their student initiating practice or competition.
- Shall provide their student’s school with the necessary written consent in accordance with Illinois state law prior to their student’s return to participation following a concussion.
- Shall encourage their student to report any injury symptoms to the appropriate person(s) at their student's school.