Required Reporting

November 27, 2018

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), Texas’ governing body for public high school sports, recently announced that the largest schools in the state will be required to report all concussions suffered by student-athletes during competition. It will take effect at the start of the 2019-20 school and will include all sports, not just football.

According to EastTexasMatters.com, the new rule says all Class 6A schools must answer a variety of questions when an athlete suffers a concussion, including when the concussion occurred, whether it came from contact with the ground or another player, and so on. The answers to these questions will then be relayed to researchers with the O’Donnell Brain Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The UIL is partnering with these groups for ConTex, which is the largest-ever study of head trauma to young athletes. 

The UIL’s medical advisory committee has said information gathered by the new initiative will help make advances in athletic safety in the future.

“This is the first of its kind quality-improvement program in the country, certainly the largest,” UIL Deputy Director Jamey Harrison said.

Texas leads the nation with 824,519 high school students participating in athletics, reports the Austin-American Statesman. Prior to the new rule, there were a few schools in Texas that were already voluntarily monitoring and documenting all of their athletic injuries, but now that number will grow. Harrison says the UIL’s long-term goal is to make it mandatory for all classifications to report concussions.

“We’re pleased about mandating at least a subset of schools to report because that will enhance the information that we’re able to obtain,” Munro Cullum, PhD, a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics with the O’Donnell Brain Institute who leads the ConTex study, told EastTexasMatters.com.

John King, Athletic Director and Head Football Coach for Longview Independent School District, said that the UIL and the Texas High School Coaches Association have been trailblazers in high school athlete safety.

“This is just another step in working to make the game safer,” he told EastTexasMatters.com. “Our [athletic] training staff has participated in the concussion reporting for years now, and this requirement is another great step in protecting our student athletes.”

One of the primary aims of the ConTex study is to gather information that can guide further safety and concussion prevention efforts.

“What changes in rules, safety or equipment in some areas of the state are reducing concussions?” Dr. Cullum posed to EastTexasMatters.com.

Westwood, Vandegrift, and Lake Travis are among several Texas high schools that already monitor all injuries suffered by their student-athletes during competition. Vandegrift Athletic Trainer Chris Shivers, ATC, has been tracking head injuries at the school for five years. So far this year, two concussions have come from football and cross-country, volleyball, and swimming have each seen one apiece. Vandegrift reported a total of 34 concussions across nine different sports last year.

“In the last 10 years, the science and understanding of how to treat and rehabilitate head injuries has increased tremendously,” Shivers told the Statesman. “The science is always revolving. As long as we as a school—and Leander ISD as a district—stay on top of the newest information, it will always change the way the injury is treated.” 

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