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As all of us who have been involved in or watched professional, amateur or youth sports are aware, head injuries (and, more particularly, “concussions”) have become a major area of concern in recent years.  While there seem to be differences in thinking on the issue, there is general agreement that such injuries can be quite severe, and can have long-lasting implications in terms of physical, mental and emotional symptoms.  It also is true that once a player has suffered an injury, further participation in sporting activities before a full recovery can result in even more severe injury.  Diagnosis of such an injury is difficult or impossible on the playing field or sidelines.  Our coaches are not trained medical personnel, and they have no expertise in diagnosing or evaluating possible internal head injuries.


Head injuries and concussions have become a focus of the lacrosse community, with rule and policy changes designed to minimize and prevent aggravation of such injuries.  US Lacrosse, PIAA, SEPYLA, PGLA and other organizations all are sensitive to this issue.  At the same time, we must all recognize that a certain amount of head contact and collisions, whether intentional or accidental, is unavoidable in lacrosse; while rule changes and tighter officiating may reduce it, they will not eliminate it.


In recognition of this serious issue, the Blaze has adopted the following policy regarding head injuries suffered by Blaze players at practice or in games:


            1.  We will take a conservative approach when such situations arise, based on the idea that the health and safety of our players is the most important consideration.  Our coaches will be instructed, in situations where they have any concern or suspicion that a player has suffered an internal head injury or concussion, to remove the player from the practice or game.


            2.  The decision of the coaches as to whether a player should be removed from a game or practice is final.  Our coaches will be instructed not to discuss with parents, on the practice field or at games, whether to put potentially injured players back onto the field after the coaches have removed them out of concern for potential head injuries.


            3.  In the event that a player is removed from a practice or game due to a potential head injury or concussion, it will be up to the player’s parent(s)/guardian(s) to do whatever they deem necessary to evaluate or treat their child’s condition.


            4.  If, after a player is removed from a game or practice due to a potential head injury or concussion, the player’s parent(s)/guardian(s) bring the player to a subsequent game or practice and inform the coach that they are comfortable having the player participate, the player will be permitted to participate.  The statement that the player may participate must be made by the parent(s)/guardian(s) in person, directly to the coach.  Our coaches will be instructed not to accept the word of the player, a friend, teammate, etc. on this issue.


            5.  Even if a player’s parent(s)/guardian(s) give their approval for their child to participate, our coaches will be instructed to watch the player closely and be conservative on this issue.


One step that many organizations have recommended is “base-line” testing (such as ImPACT Baseline Testing) for players, to establish a basis for comparison of any testing performed on a player for suspected head injury or concussion.  (Haverford High School provides such testing for its lacrosse players.)  There are multiple organizations that provide this type of service at a range of prices and locations.  Recommendations for the age at which a player should have such testing vary.  The Blaze is investigating whether we might be able to arrange for such testing for interested families at a discounted rate.  We will keep you advised in this regard. 


In addition, there are numerous sources of additional information regarding head injuries and concussions in the media, on-line, in the community, and at the library or bookstores.  We urge all parent(s)/guardian(s) to educate themselves about this serious, and often confusing, issue.  If you need assistance in finding such resources, we can pass along helpful information or references we receive.  Ultimately, though, as with any other medical issue, it must be the responsibility of parent(s)/guardian(s) to determine whether to have testing, evaluation or treatment performed on their children.