While concussions and suspected concussions occur only occasionally in track and field, including cross country, they do happen, especially in events such as hurdling, pole vault and the jumps. Although not explicitly charged with a role when these unfortunate injuries are suffered, officials nonetheless play a part.

With student-athlete concussions increasingly being scrutinized, Massachusetts adopted a law concerning head injuries and concussions. The new concussion legislation defines the protocols for the identification of student athletes with brain injury concerns, plus the protocols for allowing the athlete to return to competition. While the legislation was targeted for Sept. 1 implementation, the state Department of Health, MIAA and other organizations are formulating detailed regulations.

MIAA rules do not specifically indicate a role for officials regarding head injury protocols. MIAA rules make school medical personnel responsible. However, officials should continue the past, best practice of ensuring that the event is stopped if an athlete is suspected of suffering a head injury. Officials should facilitate the call for and access for medical personnel.

MTFOA encourages its members to familiarize themselves with the law and rules regarding head injuries, as well as concussion resources available at MIAA, NFHS, NCAA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). USA Track & Field (USATF) is in the process of developing a policy regarding head injuries. 

Updated: MIAA requires concussion training for tournament officials

posted Oct 5, 2011, 7:45 AM by Mass TFOA   [ updated Oct 1, 2012, 12:16 PM by Paul Williams ]

In support of Department of Public Health (DPH) regulations cited below, and in the best interests of student athletes, all MIAA Tournament Directors and Tournament Assignors will require successful completion of a DPH-approved concussion training program as a condition for an official accepting an MIAA tournament assignment.

Your acceptance of an MIAA Tournament contest assignment will be considered as implicit confirmation that you are a member in good standing with your local board, that you are enrolled with the MIAA, and that you have successfully completed a concussion training program as required by the DPH.   

This policy will be in effect beginning with the 2011 Fall tournament season.

105 CMR: Department of Public Health – 201.007 (E) Training Program states, “Game officials shall complete one of the training programs approved by the Department as specified on the Department’s website annually and shall provide independent verification of completion of the training program to schools or school districts upon request.”

To assist in concussion management education, the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) at no cost offers a course titled “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know.” Successful completion of this course has been approved by the DPH as satisfying the training component of the regulations.

The only requirement is registering on, which is quick and easy. This 20-minute course is designed for coaches, officials, parents, administrators and students to learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussions and a stepwise process to return to the sport. Approximately 200,000 courses have already been delivered.

MIAA Handbook Concussion Rules state:

56.2 Each school’s medical person/staff is responsible for the members of that team. These individuals annually must have taken, and been certified in, the NFHS online Concussion Course or other recognized education program. In the event of injury, that medical person/staff will make the final judgment as to whether a student athlete may return to play (please see Rule 56.4 below regarding concussions). Whenever a medical person is on duty at an athletic event, he/she shall be responsible for both teams (unless the other team has its own medical person present). His/her judgment will be final. Physical disqualification by the medical person renders the student ineligible. The Penalty for playing an ineligible student is forfeiture.

56.4 Any student athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion, or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the practice or competition and must not return to practice or competition that day, and further shall not return to play until cleared (in writing to the Athletic Director) by an appropriate health care professional (as determined by the Department of Public Health). Whenever it is decided to disqualify a studentathlete from further participation for a suspected concussion or other injury, the person making that decision must communicate about this matter with the injured athlete’s coach and athletic director in a timely fashion.

The following represents a menu of free and credible materials/resources for administrators, coaches, parents and student athletes:


-- Free online concussion course (What you need to know)

-- Concussions – NFHS Sports Medicine Handbook


-- Facts about Concussion and Brain Injury: Where to Get Help

-- Heads Up: Brain Injury in Your Practice initiative

-- Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports initiative

-- Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports initiative

-- Help Seniors Live Better, Longer: Prevent Brain Injury initiative


-- Prevention Programs include:

            - Brains at Risk

            - Gateway

            - Think A Head

            - Keys

            - Falls

            - Jose and Maria

-- Sport Concussion Cards

-- DVD’s for athletes, parents & coaches–excellent resource for preseason meetings


-- Concussion Information Resource Page


-- Concussion / A Coach’s Guide for Sideline Evaluations (Concussion Education Brochure)

MIAA updates standards on concussions

posted Nov 4, 2010, 10:15 AM by Mass TFOA   [ updated Nov 4, 2010, 10:16 AM by Paul Williams ]

MIAA Handbook Standards 33, 56, and 97.4 have been updated for the purposes of clarifying and enhancing the Association’s student concussion initiatives and medical protocols, according to an email sent by Dick Neal, executive director, to member schools, coaches, ADs and tournament directors.
Rule 33 (click here) now reflects the July law’s requirement that coaches (and others) annually educate themselves with regard to concussions. 
Standard 56.2 (click here) asserts that each school’s medical personnel will be responsible for members of that team.  Therefore, when  MIAA assigned medical personnel are also present at a tournament site, the Association’s personnel will defer to the school’s staff, but will stand ready to assist whenever requested.  It further emphasizes that medical personnel responsible for student athletes be certified in the National Federation or similar concussion course. 
Standard 56.4 (click here) has been condensed and written in language more consistent with the requirements of the law.  Most importantly, kindly note that any student suspected of a concussion must not be returned to practice or competition on that day.
Standard 97.4 (click here) has been edited somewhat, and now includes language that emphasizes that the school’s medical personnel, and not the Association’s assigned medical personnel, will make participation decisions.
This communication provides a good opportunity to remind you that your school’s concussion protocols should acknowledge that your academic staff needs to be educated with respect to the learning impact of a concussion on any student, whether an athlete or not.  Also, recall that there are many concussion resources and information to be found on the MIAA home page at (right column).

MIAA, state adopt rules on concussions - earlier posts

posted Nov 4, 2010, 10:14 AM by Mass TFOA   [ updated Nov 4, 2010, 10:18 AM by Paul Williams ]

MIAA adopts new concussion recommendations

posted Oct 8, 2010 2:47 PM by Mass TFOA   [ updated Oct 8, 2010 2:57 PM ]
During the meeting of the MIAA Board of Directors the week of Oct. 4, “concussion recommendations” from the MIAA Sports Medicine Committee were adopted by the Board. The recommendations were detailed in email dated Oct. 8 from MIAA executive director Dick Neal to member schools.
The recommendations are:
1.  Continue to promote Association initiatives related to concussions in sports, along with other resources and services available (click here
2.  Promote the availability of the National Federation of State High School Associations’ online course, “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know” (click here, and further to require this Course for all MIAA member school coaches (note: more than 4,000 already have completed the online course).
3.  Continue to participate in the Department of Public Health Return to Play Task Force (RTP).
4.  Continue to support delay of full implementation of the Concussion Law.
Kindly note that #2 mandates that all your coaches take the National Federation course online.  This requirement is effective with the start of this year’s winter sport season (i.e. November 29).
Additionally, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has made a request that we include in the MIAA Concussion Rule the following language:  If a student athlete becomes unconscious during a practice or competition, that student must not return to participation without written authorization to the Athletic Director from an appropriate health care professional (as determined by the DPH).
Be assured that we continue to initiate and participate in meetings with other stakeholders on this important subject.

MIAA, state adopt rules on concussions, bullying

posted Sep 8, 2010 12:08 PM by Mass TFOA
During the summer, the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Commonwealth adopted rules concerning head injuries and concussions. In addition, the state passed legislation against bullying and hazing. 

The new concussion legislation defines the protocols for the identification of student athletes with brain injury concerns, plus the protocols for allowing the athlete to return to competition. While the legislation was targeted for Sept. 1 implementation, the state Department of Health, MIAA and other organizations are formulating detailed regulations. 

MTFOA advises all officials to read the new rules and legislation, copies of which are attached to this post.

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