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Salem

New concussion policy timely for city official

SALEM - About three weeks before a new concussion policy for high school students officially went into the School Department’s books on Monday night, School Committee member Janet Crane was walking to a meeting at the City Hall Annex when she tripped and bumped her head.

“I had a welt up here; I was black and blue and had a headache,’’ said Crane, who helped write the district’s concussion policy and was diagnosed with a concussion later that night.

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Crane was speaking after the second reading of the concussion policy during the Feb. 27 School Committee meeting. The policy became official after Monday night’s third reading of the policy.

“I have done some field work on this issue,’’ Crane joked at the Feb. 27 meeting. “I want to say in my own experience of having a concussion, not only how important the procedures that we are putting in place at the high school are, but what I was recommended was not to do any strenuous mental activity or physical activity, and that included not watching any television or using a computer.

“And I certainly don’t remember that in the procedures that we read that are going in place. But my doctor assured me that because I had gone back to doing both of those things too soon, that I didn’t have as quick of a recovery as I would have hoped.’’

Legislation that passed on Beacon Hill in 2010 requires schools to provide annual training to students, parents, and staff on how to recognize and respond to head injuries.

Injured students must be returned to sports activity gradually, and only after medical clearance. Beginning this school year, Massachusetts middle and high schools were also required to report head injuries and suspected concussions to the state Department of Public Health.

The policy mostly pertains to student athletes but also covers other activities such as marching band.

On Feb. 27, Crane recommended modifying the procedures so that students will be warned not to watch TV or use a computer after suffering a concussion.

After Crane suffered her fall, she still attended her meeting at the City Hall Annex, where her colleagues recommended that she go to the hospital. Superintendent Stephen Russell ended up escorting Crane to the hospital and staying with her there for several hours.

“I was very grateful I was surrounded by members of this committee and the superintendent,’’ she said during the Feb. 27 meeting, “because one doesn’t know when one has a concussion and you really need other people to tell you.’’

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.
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