Big 12 Announces New Concussion Protocols

On Wednesday, the Big 12 announced a universal policy for concussion diagnosis, and management for all of its student-athletes.

The new policy — approved by the Big 12 board of directors — was designed by team athletic trainers, medical support staff, and physicians.

“The Big 12 is fully committed to the health and welfare of its student-athletes,” said Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, who also serves as the chairman of the conference’s board of directors. “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.”

In 2014, the NCAA established its Inter-Association Consensus Guidelines for Concussion Diagnosis and Management, which the Big 12 is mandating its members follow.

These guidelines include educating student-athletes, administrators, and coaches on how to properly report concussions, and what their responsibilities entail.

Teams will be responsible for maintaining a concussion management plan, on file, and protocol for how concussions will be evaluated and maintained; which also includes gathering comprehensive information called “baseline metrics.”

Metrics will be obtained and used for post-injury assessments and data comparisons, to monitor recovery times, neurocognitive functions, and other information useful to treating concussions.

Institutions will be granted autonomy for its medical staff when it comes to managing post-injury statuses, and protocol also grants medical professionals from removing student-athletes from competition at their discretion.

When a student-athlete is evaluated for a concussion, he or she will be required to sign a statement confirming the institution educated them on their condition, and acknowledging responsibility for reporting any injuries and illnesses that follow.

“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,” Big 12 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.”

Member institutions will be required to submit annual concussion management plans to Conference officials; this will give the conference updated metrics which will be useful in determining plays that are potentially unsafe, and could help prevent concussive, subconcussive, or head and neck injuries in the future.

With the recent news of West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, and Texas’ quarterback David Ash retiring prematurely due to concussions, the necessity for a diagnosis and management policy has never been more apparent. And it will be interesting to see if the data reports do, eventually, change how the game is played, or how technology adapts.

*Section Photo credit to Justin K. Aller, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Chat Sports

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