SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - As information about the dangers of concussions in sports becomes more prevalent, the state is requiring local municipalities to set guidelines on the matter for youth sports.
The South Pittsburg City Commission recently voted to adopt a youth sports concussion policy.
Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Bradford said the policy, required by a state law that took effect Jan. 1, will apply to basketball, softball, baseball, football, cheerleading and soccer in South Pittsburg.
Coaches of those sports must complete a "heads-up concussion training" session and obtain a certificate to be kept on file at the city's recreation department, Bradford said.
"This puts the responsibility on them," she said. "If they see an accident of any kind and there could be a concussion, these are the steps they have to learn in order to take a child out of play."
The training reviews the steps coaches must take to allow competitors back into the game, too.
City policy will require participants' parents to fill out a form that discusses the signs and symptoms of a concussion, Bradford said.
It is kept on file by the city for three years "just in case there was anything that happened to occur," she said.
Local veterinarian Stevie Powers, who coaches youth baseball and football, attended the city's first certification training last week.
He said the session included a lot of common-sense points that can sometimes be overlooked.
"It's a great thing and gets everyone on the same page for this," he said.
During the training, Powers said, coaches are taught the signs and symptoms of a concussion, such as loss of mental focus, pupil dilation and light sensitivity, among others.
Officials said symptoms can appear days after a collision, so parents are encouraged to complete the certification process as well, but it is not required.
The concussion training can be completed online, and coaches and parents can print off the certificate for city officials.
Bradford said the city's policy requires coaches to renew the concussion certification annually.
"They don't just take the course, and they're done," she said. "They actually have to do this every year. Every January, we will have to repeat the process."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryan firstname.lastname@example.org.