AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) - There are new rules on the books for student athletes in New York State who have suffered concussions on the playing field.
The requirements include new guidelines and a whole program geared towards young athletes.
Amherst Central School District athletic director Pat Murphy said, "It's going to educate the youth about concussions, it's going to educate our parents, its going to educate our staff about what happens when you get as concussion. It also mandates that we have to follow a certain protocol for someone to come back from that type of an injury."
The protocol is intended to make sure that an athlete is really recovered.
University at Buffalo concussion expert Dr. Barry Willer said, "Can he exercise to the level of his sport or as we put it, to voluntary exhaustion, without exacerbation of symptoms? Then he's ready to return to play."
And recovery is more than just readiness for sports.
"A lot of times they come back a little too quick - even back into the educational setting. Part of the protocol that we have to follow is a return to learn, not just a return to play, but return to learn," Murphy explained.
Athletes in the Amherst district will also take a computerized test of mental abilities - before the season - to be used as a baseline for comparison after possible later injuries.
Dr. Willer isn't convinced that the cognitive testing will be helpful in treating injured athletes, but he agrees that the program will help raise awareness about concussions.
"That makes a lot of sense to me, and I think there's a lot of value in that," he said.
Murphy added, "Almost all of our students will never play at the next level, let alone at the pro level. Many of them have dreams of that, but what we want them to do is have a great time in their high school careers, being involved in as many sports as they can, as many things as they can, but do it safely where it's not going to affect them down the road."
Proper recovery from a concussion can help prevent another one. Baseline cognitive testing before the season may or may not aid that recovery, but it does raise awareness of concussions and how to treat them properly.
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