At a special meeting of the Levittown Board of Education held Wednesday, the hard-hitting topic of student athlete concussions was addressed, as well as a new program adopted by the school district to test for the dangerous injury.
According to the Concussion Management Awareness Act, a bill sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and signed into New York State law in June of 2011, school districts must adopt regulations to treat and monitor students with mild traumatic brain injuries sustained bump, blow, or jolt to the head during sporting activities.
Levittown is one of the first school districts on Long Island to comply with this new legislation, and Athletic Director Keith Snyder laid out the their plan to deal with the health threat of brain injury facing their student athletes.
“We need to develop a concussion management team,” Snyder said. “This team will consist of myself, the trainers, the nurses, a medical director, and a physician who will be responsible for allowing students to come back and play.”
Cardiologist Dr. Sal Trazzera then gave a presentation of a new self-administered program for testing for concussions known as “Impact.” Students can be easily and quickly tested to determine what degree of long-term impairment, if any, a possible concussion has wrought upon them.
“Impact is the most widely-used neurocognitive test...it basically tests brain function,” Trazzera said. “It’s about a 30 minute test that’s done on a computer...we can do it in any computer lab on multiple students at a time. It’s easily proctored, self-explanatory, and it’s a standard tool used in the management of concussions by athletes of all ages.”
Impact tests cognitive brain functions such as visual memory, verbal memory, and reaction time. The cost of the test per student comes out to $10.
Symptoms of a possible concussion involve headaches, nausea/vomiting, sensitivity to noise or light, balance problems, and feeling fatigued. In addition, the long-term after-effects can be even more serious - a victim of a concussion can have problems concentrating or remembering new information, difficulty organizing tasks, as well as suffering from depression, sadness and irritability.
Further damage can result in greater impairment of faculties, and in some extreme cases, even death. Early treatment and accurate diagnosis is vital. But now that the district has access to the Impact program, Snyder said that the Board of Education must decide how to best apply it going into the 2012-13 school year.
“We’re going to test it out on the football team first, since they tend to take the heaviest hits,” Snyder said. “As for the other teams we’re going to be administering the Impact test to, the Board of Education has to decide.”
In other meeting news, the Board of Education approved the Nassau BOCES final contract for the 2011-12 school year in the amount of $7,569,686.88, as well as approving the Nassau BOCES initial contract for the 2012-13 school year in the amount of $6,096,426.92. These amounts cover services and other expenses for the school years in question.
The next meeting of the Levittown Board of Education is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m.