With the rise of concussion diagnosis, there is a growing need to safely and effectively support student athletes in their return to the classroom and sport. Sydney’s renowned SCECGS Redlands School set out to provide a solution to the mounting concerns around ‘sport-related concussion’.
Aware of management issues with concussion, Redlands Dean of Activities, Mr. Simon Colyer, sought information from multiple sources and programs for potential action-based solutions. Early in 2019, an informative conference from Law Sense further cemented this drive to implement a proactive concussion management system, allowing the school to effectively help in a student’s rehabilitation and return process. Redlands’ key identified needs were:
- Finding a proactive concussion management system that would ensure individualised rehabilitation and guidance,
- Providing staff and student support with external concussion-trained health professionals; and,
- Providing support with policy creation and ongoing follow-up to ensure compliance and alignment with current research.
In preparation for the start of their annual Winter School Program, in June 2019 Redlands formed a partnership with Complete Concussion Management Inc. (CCMI), a global concussion research and education provider.
“While we at Redlands are aware and follow the concussion policies of the Independent Schools Association (ISA) and Rugby Australia (RA), we wanted to ensure that we had a policy reflecting the most up-to-date research and a robust management program to protect and ensure proper/full recovery from concussion for all of our students” said Colyer. “Winter school was an obvious place to start; as it’s a residential program where students are involved in high-risk sports such as skiing and snowboarding, whilst living in an environment where student management can be continually monitored by staff in conjunction with concussion-trained medical professionals”.
With a team of researchers overseen by a multidisciplinary Medical Advisory Board, CCMI provides their global network of rehabilitation clinics and sport/school partners with continually updated evidence-based research, ensuring they stay at the forefront of concussion management. Colyer collaborated with the experienced CCMI team to formulate a plan to institute a Concussion Policy into their Winter School Program as a pilot project for term three of 2019.
The Redlands CCMI partnership has sought to inform and protect the students not only through education, but also through knowledge of a student’s current injury status, helping to guide clinical decision making in their individualised rehabilitation and return. CCMI has helped the school:
- enhance the concussion knowledge of parents, students and teachers,
- institute a concussion policy to help guide students through their recovery process,
- connect with highly trained health professionals with specialised knowledge in concussion management; and,
- maintain connectivity with all stakeholders allowing for information on a student’s progress status to be shared in real time.
The newly formed partnership with CCMI has enabled Redlands to put forward a clear standpoint on concussion, following best practices as indicated by the rapidly evolving research.
Implementing multimodal pre-season testing
The Winter School Pilot Project incorporated a trial of multimodal pre-season testing, providing the medical personnel with an indication of a student’s individual pre-injury status to be drawn on as a comparison in the event of an injury. This implementation placed decision making on the appropriate medical professionals, who have access to the information necessary to arrive at the most effective next steps in each individual case.
Updating policies and procedures is not without its challenges. It requires the coordinated work of multiple professions. However, the value to the school and administration is clear as noted by Clare Scown (Campus Welfare Manager and Nurse), “It takes the guesswork out of concussion, replacing it with confidence in knowing that by the time the student navigates the protocol and passes the tests, they are safely returning to school and sport.”
Having a policy and step-by-step protocol in place alleviates the stress and premature pressure that can often surround concussive injuries. The responsibility and continuity of care is placed with the appropriate medical professionals.
Following a busy winter term, Scown reported an overall success of the program implementation, “The readily available support from CCMI has been invaluable in my management and guidance for our students throughout their return to learn and sport process. With this support I have been able to focus holistically on the student and their environment, knowing that we are protecting our students with care based on the most current research.”
A full assessment and debrief on the program implementation is now underway. Redlands is confident that they will expand their current concussion program with CCMI, to also encompass the main campus and sport profile of the school.