Schools applaud efforts to better monitor students after concuss - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Schools applaud efforts to better monitor students after concussions

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KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Harold Tanaka has seen a lot in his time as a coach and now athletic director at Farrington High School. Especially when it comes to concussions.

"When I started coaching 30 years ago, it was like 'Get up, you're OK,'" he recalls.

Safe to say, times have changed.

Tanaka now oversees the concussion protocol at Farrington, and says schools are working hard to improve monitoring of student-athletes after concussions.

In 2010, the state launched the concussion protocol program for schools, funded by the state Department of Health's Neurotrauma Special Fund.

The special fund not only pays for the cognitive testing, but also education for trainers and administrators, public outreach and awareness programs. 

The University of Hawaii has a six-year, $2.1 million contract to deliver the concussion protocol.

That contract runs out in August, and schools are working now to ensure a new contract is signed to keep the program running.

"Times have changed. We have to be more concerned about our athletes," Tanaka said.

Janice Okubo, state Health Department spokeswoman, said the health department is "open to considering a new proposal from UH to continue youth concussion research and prevention activities."

The concussion protocol begins with student-athletes in ninth and 11th grades taking a baseline cognitive test before their season starts. Should an athlete suffer a concussion, a series of steps are taken to ensure the student's safety.

"Our trainer will determine right away if they need an ambulance, or if they can see a doctor after the game," Tanaka said.

Once the athlete sees a doctor and receives medical clearance to return to school, teachers and administrators are notified of the student's condition. And the student re-takes the cognitive test before returning to the field.

"If they don't pass they can't do the protocol to return to play," Tanaka said.

The protocol is designed to ease students who have concussions back into physical activity over a period of time. They can't return to action immediately.

It begins with basic exercise, like using a stationary bike. The next step is running on the field or court. The final step is getting back to a normal practice routine.

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