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Posted on Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 5 p.m.

Concussion guideline proposal submitted to Big Ten Conference medical staffs

By Michael Rothstein

When Big Ten Conference medical staffs decided last month to add an educational component to its concussion guidelines, it wasn’t clear how the process would work.

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the director of Michigan Neurosport, was one of a handful of medical staff along with representatives from Purdue, Northwestern and Ohio State to create a proposal instituting new concussion guidelines submitted this week.

Kutcher and his staff at Michigan are also working on an educational computer program to provide a conference-wide test for all schools to administer to athletes and coaches about concussions.

The program is being developed at Michigan and could be beta-tested at the school this year.

It will likely consist of an eight-to-10 question concussion pre-test followed by 10 to 12 minutes of reading material possibly including animation and video.

A post-test will follow the session. Both coaches and athletes will have to pass the test to be able to sign the form of acknowledgment regarding concussion care. The acknowledgment form states both coach and athlete responsibilities reporting concussions and concussion-related symptoms.

“We’re basically basing it on lectures that we’ve given to the community and coaches and athletes over the years,” Kutcher said. “We’re not trying to certify people to do any kind of medical intervention or training, but a general knowledge of concussion signs, symptoms, what to do if you see one, when it’s safe to go back, those kinds of things.”

Kutcher said the computer test wouldn’t become a Big Ten-wide program until at least 2011. Until then, each school will hold its own educational plan.

The computer program would fulfill one of the guidelines instituted in a three-page document submitted by Kutcher and his colleagues.

The document contained much of the same philosophies of the memo the NCAA released in April about new guidelines regarding concussions.

“We also wanted to make the point that individualizing concussion management, considering each student athlete’s complete medical history and close physician involvement were sort of the three things we strive for in regards to concussion,” Kutcher said.

Other guidelines include:

  • Any symptoms or signs of a concussion will sideline and athlete until he or she is evaluated by medical staff. If an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion, they will sit out at least the remainder of that day and will, according to Kutcher, “go under serial monitoring for worsening (symptoms) and then enter into each institution’s concussion management plan.”
  • All concussions, including those suffered outside of competition and practice, will be treated the same. The individual schools will decide the “physical and cognitive considerations of the student-athlete, the concept of academic rest as well as physical rest being part of the recovery.
  • Each school will specifically define its method of baseline concussion testing and what those tests will be. However, Kutcher said the baseline test will be merely one way the physician will make a judgment on when an athlete can return to playing.
  • Kutcher said he was told at the Big Ten meetings the team's proposal would likely be accepted.

    “It’s a scary process when a kid goes through concussions and you better make sure, the rules and the things that they’ve proposed all make sense,” Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I would like to think most of them were doing that anyway as far as having the doctors and the professionals determine who goes back on the field.

    “I don’t know if any coach would even try to make a decision on who’s healthy enough to play.” reporter Dave Birkett contributed to this report

    Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



    Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

    Any person who experiences loss of consciousness, confusion or dizziness following a hit to the head should seek medical attention for a concussion. Concussions can cause permanent brain damage and progressive mental dysfunction later in life. Those involved in activities with known risks of head trauma should wear properly fitted protective head gear. Cycling and skateboarding are two examples.