Process for Management of Academics for Concussed Athletes Introduction This procedure has been designed to outline the duties of an athlete with a concussion as related to the Ferrum College Sports Medicine Department, how it handles the process for athletes who have sustained concussions, and their return to academics. The department of sports medicine at Ferrum College is charged with the healthcare of our student-athletes, including but not limited to the physical, mental, and cognitive health of the student athlete. With the increasing amount of research regarding the nature of concussions and how they may negatively impact performance in the classroom, this document is designed to provide guidelines for setting accommodations to maximize academic performance without delaying the healing process of a concussion. The rapid expansion of research regarding both the medical and educational concerns of the student athlete requires that this document may be updated as new evidence-based information becomes available. Background A concussion is defined as a trauma induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. Concussions occur from forces applied directly or indirectly to the skull that results in the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the brain. The sudden change in cerebral velocity elicits neurocognitive changes to the ionic balance and metabolism of the brain. Colloquially, a concussion is a bruise to the brain, which causes both structural and cognitive changes that diminishes the normal performance of the organ. Concussions occur in males and females of all ages and sports, but are most common in contact and collision sports. As licensed medical professionals, athletic trainers receive comprehensive didactic and clinical training in concussion management. They are typically the first providers to identify and evaluate injured persons. They are also in charge of post-injury management of the student-athletes. Certain symptoms of a concussion are especially concerning in the classroom, such as headache, vision disruption, fatigue, increased inattentiveness/diminished focus, and provocation of symptoms when exposed to loud noises and lights. The presence of these symptoms in the athlete signifies that they are not yet ready to return to the normal activities of the student-athlete and require modification of the environment to maximize the healing process. Policies A. When a student-athlete reports clinical signs of a concussion, the Ferrum College Sports Medicine Staff will perform a battery of diagnostic tests to determine the nature of the injury. B. The Ferrum College Sports Medicine department will decide if the athlete has sustained a concussion and provide immediate care, which may involve referral to an emergency department or specialist. C. The Ferrum College Sports Medicine department will record the nature of the cognitive injury daily, in order to ensure the progression of the healing process. All athletes diagnosed with a concussion must report to the Ferrum College Sports Medicine Staff in order to advance in protocols. D. If a student does not report to the athletic training staff in a manner that allows for proper management of a concussion, they will lose academic accommodations. E. If the Ferrum College Sports Medicine department has reached a clinical decision that normal academic participation is hindered by a concussion so that academic adjustments are necessary, the athletic trainer may make the student aware that the student is eligible to submit appropriate documentation and work through the Office of Academic Accessibility (OAA) to access academic accommodations. Based on the severity of the injury, accommodations that are frequently suggested include the following. a. In cases of severe neurocognitive disruption, complete removal from the classroom may be required. b. If complete removal from the classroom is required, the athlete is also not allowed to attend NCAA events, including practices, lifting sessions, and games. c. Adjustments may be made to minimize the chance of exacerbating the injury. Examples sampling of possible adjustments are as follows: i. allowing a student to record a lecture to listen to the information in a more controlled environment ii. use of earplugs in the classroom iii. use of sunglasses in the classroom iv. use of discussion or oral assignments in place of written assignments and quizzes v. allowance of a high carbohydrate snack in the classroom (if in accordance to safety regulations) vi. the ability to temporarily leave the classroom while class is in progress. vii. taking tests/quizzes in a smaller setting testing center rather than a classroom Students will follow the OAA procedures for alternate testing services if this accommodation is to be used. Written guidelines for the procedure are available on the OAA webpage, and the process will be explained to the student when he/she meets with the OAA director. viii. provision of additional time for assignments when a clock or timer is used to determine the length of time allowed for the assignment d. When restrictions are put in place by an athletic trainer, all restrictions will last for no more than five academic days. For extensions of academic adjustments, a full reevaluation by both the Ferrum College Sports Medicine staff (which is already a daily occurrence) and accessing accommodations through the Office of Academic Accessibility is required. e. The Ferrum College Sports Medicine Staff is required to email the Vice President of Academic Affairs and the director of Office of Academic Accessibility that they are referring an injured student to the Office of Academic Accessibility and the indicated adjustments to the classroom. It is the responsibility of the student to create the meeting time with the director and to provide OAA with written documentation from a qualified professional. i. If a student does not meet with OAA and does not follow procedures in the OAA policy manual, the academic adjustments will not be put into place or continued. ii. The student who does not meet with the OAA director and does not follow procedures in the OAA policy manual will not be eligible for OAA accommodations. Faculty will not be notified if the student does not meet with OAA. iii. Students must request academic accommodations pro-actively (prior to the need for the accommodation); modifications, compensations, and alterations are not retro-active. Upon request by the student, faculty will be notified. F. If a student athlete has academic accommodations in place, the Ferrum College Sports Medicine Department will communicate to the Office of Academic Accessibility when the adjustment are to be modified or removed, but the accommodations will last no more than five academic days without additional communication from the Ferrum College Sports Medicine Department. G. After the student signs a release form, all adjustments to the learning environment of the student athlete will be communicated to the instructors of the student athlete via e-mail by the director of OAA. ADDENDUM The procedures installed for student athletes may also work for the general student population as well. Independent medical providers acting within the scope of their practice may send classroom adjustments with an injured student. These documents and setting up a meeting with the Office of Academic Accessibility is the responsibility of the student. Due to the nature of the medical business, restrictions from independent medical providers may be required to last longer than five academic days. Athletes who choose to consult with a medical or other qualified provider instead of working with athletic trainers may submit documentation from the qualified professional and will be eligible for academic accommodations through OAA using the procedures used with non-athletes. Choosing not to work in consultation with Ferrum’s Sports Medicine Program may have implications with regard to qualifying to continue on an athletic team until the student has a medical release to return to the team.
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