Adaptations made to concussion protocols

Adapting to increased concussion awareness across the U.S., Diamond Bar High School has re-implemented baseline screenings through a digital program, Concussion Vital Signs.

From 2013 to 2018, DBHS athletes in high-contact sports underwent one-on-one pre-season screening with a paper test, in an effort to abide by California’s 2012 456778’ concussion law, AB25, Ed Code 49475. However, during the 2018-2019 sports season, the baseline testing was removed.

“We decided to remove the pre-season screenings due to many reasons–increased participation, decreased time and resources, and a lack of compliance from some sports teams,” DBHS athletic trainer Chase Paulson said via email. “The coaching staff at the time did not see the value in the pre-season screenings and so a decision was made to remove them from our concussion management plan,”

With this digital tool, athletic trainers are able to compare an athlete’s post-injury test results to their pre-injury results, leading to better and more individualized care. 

On average, athletes who have sustained a concussion will be required to sit out for 11 days, outside of a few exceptions. Varsity boys water polo goalie Owen Cheng was required to sit out for nearly a month due to the severity of his injury.

“I had to go into [Chase Paulson’s room] every single day,” Cheng said. “I felt like the school took it seriously,”

Junior varsity girls basketball player Breanna Bongcaras was another athlete required to sit out of her sport. However, since the CVS testing found that she did not sustain a concussion, Bongcaras was only required to sit out for the week following her head injury.

“I believe that concussion safety is super important,” Bongcaras said. “This small scare could have led to something bigger,”

Research has found an increased number of concussions occurring in some sports over others, with cheer as the number one girls sport and tackle football as the number one boys sport.

“Overall, I think there is slightly more awareness of the dangers. I do not think there is enough,” pep coordinator Christian Calero said.

While the new testing has been received with a mostly positive response from athletes and their families, some issues have occurred on a case-to-case basis.

“There will always be those who do not understand why a student-athlete cannot participate due to concussion, and that is usually because you cannot see a concussion or visibly know when one has healed,” Paulson said. “[CVS’] objectivity removes any reasons as to why a person should continue to sit out due to a sport-related concussion.”