By On February 20th, 2015

Big 12 Conference Enacts Strict New Concussion Policy

On Wednesday, the Big 12 announced new expanded rules for diagnosing and managing concussions for student-athletes. The policy was approved by the Big 12 Board of Directors, and was “developed by athletic trainers, physicians, and medical support staff.”

Big 12“The Big 12 is fully committed to the health and welfare of its student-athletes,” said Big 12 Board of Directors Chairman and Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis. “The implementation of this policy, along with the Conference’s previously announced initiatives for all programs to provide multi-year grants, grant-in-aid up to the full-cost of attendance, and the opportunity to return to campus to complete degree requirements for those that leave school early, speak volumes to our commitment level.”

The new policy requires each participating school in the conference to have a “concussion management plan” directed by the team physician which specifically outlines the role of healthcare staff in the decision-making.

The schools will also be required to educate its athletes, coaches, physicians, and athletic directors “as to their responsibility for reporting any injuries and illnesses.”

“Our membership has developed a comprehensive diagnosis and management policy that asserts the unchallengeable authority of medical practitioners in overseeing the welfare of our student-athletes in this very important area,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “This policy goes beyond what was approved during the recent NCAA Autonomy Governance, and puts all associated protocols where they belong; in the hands of trained medical staff.”

The new rules also include a much stricter return to play policy which grants medical staff “unchallengable authority” on brain injury matters. As the press release explains:

The guidelines will institute an assessment protocol in which appropriate baseline metrics be obtained to allow for post-injury comparative assessment at appropriate time intervals to monitor the recovery process. These will include objective assessment of signs and symptoms, neurocognitive function, and balance; and a systematic symptom guided return to play (RTP) progression.

The policy empowers the institution’s medical staff to have the autonomy and the unchallengeable authority to determine management and return to play (RTP) of any ill/injured student-athlete, and ensures that no coach serve as the primary supervisor for any medical provider, nor have hiring, retention and dismissal authority over that provider.

Lastly, the conference will require all schools to submit “an updated concussion management plan” which will be used “to track potentially unsafe plays.”

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