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A call for brain training


State mandates training to reduce injuries



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Players emerge from a tackle at the Sept. 10 Southbridge-Tantasqua football game. Shawn Kelley. (click for larger version)
September 19, 2010
For years, there has been media coverage of traumatic brain injuries among soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But thousands of people still in school suffer similar, if not as gruesome, injuries close to home, often doing fun things — football, biking, cheerleading and even just playing at recess.

This July, that trend led to the passage of state Senate bill 2469, a law requiring schools — but not independent sports entities — to annually train "coaches, trainers and parent volunteers for any extracurricular athletic activity," including marching band; doctors and nurses; athletic and band directors; and the parents themselves on various issues related to sports-related head injuries.

Although local school officials say they support the concept, many share the view of Dudley-Charlton Superintendent Sean Gilrein — that it's "a considerable burden on the school district" to ensure everyone gets trained and necessary records are kept.

Southbridge Athletic Director Brian Davis agreed.

"It's a great idea because safety is our number one priority, but it's going to be hard to get these parents to take the test," he said, citing parents' schedules, possible language barriers and other concerns.

Reaching the coaches, he said, is much easier — his goal is to have them take the online course by Oct. 1. Some have already done so, although Davis admitted computer problems stymied his own attempt to do it recently.

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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