MCPS to Consider Districtwide Concussion Testing Program

September 11, 2012
Superintendent Joshua P. Starr announced today that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is considering a districtwide baseline testing program to assist in identifying student-athletes who suffer concussions and to help in determining when they can safely return to the playing field.

Dr. Starr informed the Montgomery County Board of Education today (Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012) that MCPS will request proposals from outside providers that can administer and maintain such a testing program. A workgroup will meet in the coming weeks to determine what information should be included in the Request for Proposal (RFP) before it is sent out.

“The long-term effects of concussions and head injuries are being discussed across the country and are the subject of a growing body of research,” Dr. Starr said. “I think we must explore a districtwide baseline testing program as part of our ongoing efforts to keep our student-athletes safe and healthy.”

Baseline testing is an exam conducted during the pre-season that assesses an athlete’s balance and brain function, including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solves problems. Results from baseline tests can be compared to additional exams administered to an athlete suspected to have experienced a concussion. Health care professionals can use the results of these tests as one measure in deciding when it is safe for a student to return to action. (
Source: Centers for Disease Control).

MCPS already provides information to parents and student-athletes about concussions and head injuries, as well as ongoing training to coaches and athletic directors. Any athlete who is exhibiting concussion-related symptoms must be removed from a game immediately and cannot return to play until cleared by a medical professional.

Currently, nine MCPS high schools offer baseline testing to at least some of its student-athletes. The schools must come up with the cost for the testing and rely on volunteer health professionals to administer the tests and maintain the results.

Dr. Starr will convene a workgroup that will help gather information for an RFP and answer critical questions, including whether baseline testing will be optional, whether testing will be conducted for participants in all sports or only specific sports, and if baseline testing will be required as a criterion for returning to play after suffering a concussion.

Dr. Starr also said that the program will have a budgetary impact and that funding for a districtwide program must be identified before a testing program can begin.

MCPS Athletics Health and Safety Website

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