Concussion Management Responsibilities

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.

School Responsibilities

IHSA member schools:

  • Shall adopt a policy regarding student athlete concussions and head injuries that is in compliance with the protocols, policies, and by-laws of the Illinois High School Association.
  • Shall provide information on their school’s concussion and head injury policy as a part of any agreement, contract, code, or other written instrument that a school requires a student-athlete and his/her parent(s) or guardian(s) to sign before participating in an interscholastic practice or competition.
  • Shall use educational materials provided by the Illinois High School Association to educate coaches, student-athletes, and parents and guardians about the nature and risk of concussions and head injuries, including continuing to play after a concussion or head injury.
  • Shall ensure compliance with the Return-to-Play (RTP) Policy of the Illinois High School Association.
  • Shall develop RTP and Return-to-Learn (RTL) protocols for students at their school who have been diagnosed as having sustained a concussion in accordance with Illinois state law.
  • Shall ensure that student-athletes watch the IHSA Concussion video at least once during the school year.

Coaches Responsibilities

Coaches:

  • Shall be educated about the nature and risk of concussions and head injuries, including continuing to play after a concussion or head injury, and successfully complete an approved program prior to beginning their coaching responsibilities. 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 appropriate RTP protocols.

Athlete Responsibilities

Athletes:

  • 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 all appropriate RTP and RTL protocols.
  • Shall view the IHSA Concussion video at least once during the school year.

Parent/Guardian Responsibilities

Parents/Guardians:

  • Shall annually review, sign, and return to the school, a concussion and head injury information sheet 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.