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Protocol for Handling Concussions & Head Injuries 

Exclusion from Play
Any player, who during a practice or competition, sustains a head injury or suspected concussion, or exhibits signs and symptoms of a concussion, or loses consciousness, even briefly, shall be removed from the practice or competition immediately and may not return to the practice or competition that day. 
The coach shall communicate the nature of the injury directly to the parent in person or by phone immediately after the practice or competition in which a player has been removed from play for a head injury, suspected concussion, signs and symptoms of a concussion, or loss of consciousness. 
Medical Clearance and Re-Entry Plan 
Each player who is removed from practice or competition and subsequently diagnosed with a concussion shall not return to practice or competition unless and until the player provides medical clearance and authorization. The ultimate return to play decision is a medical decision that may involve a multidisciplinary approach, including consultation with parents, medical practitioners, and coaches as appropriate. 
Graduated Return to Play
Once it has been determined by a medical professional that an athlete is cleared to return to play, a gradual progression for return to play may begin. The stages of gradual progression are as follows, as defined by the Center for Disease Control:
(1) Aerobic exercise (e.g., stationary bicycle)
(2) Sport-specific training (e.g., running, skating)
(3) Non-contact drills (includes cutting and other lateral movements)
(4) Full contact controlled training
(5) Full contact game play
An athlete should only advance to the next stage of the progression if he/she is able to complete the prior stage without the presence of concussion symptoms.  

Additional Resources

WAYS injury guidelines for coaches
Additional information on concussion awareness is available online at the CDC Heads UP Concussion Resource Center:


Contact the CDC:  CDCINFO at 1-800-CDC-INFO | or Email cdcinfo@cdc.gov 

V1.0 WAYS Sept. 2012