Buffalo, NY -- The New York State Concussion Management Law went into effect before last year's high school football season. It requires any player who has a head injury, or is showing signs of a concussion, to be removed from all games and practices until a doctor says they have been symptom free for at least 24 hours.
"I think there's always that thought of your kid, next play could be an injury," says high school coach and father George Sisson.
With this month's death of Brocton football player Damon Janes and an Attica player getting injured on the field Friday, coaches are stressing just how important it is to keep student athletes who may have head injuries off the field.
"We call concussions the invisible injury. I mean, if I break my arm, you can see that I have an injury and I put a cast on it. If I get a severe knee injury, I usually have a scar or a brace on there while I am recovering. With concussions, you don't have that," says Todd Nelson who is the Assistant Director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
But pulling students with possible head injuries out of a game isn't just a precaution, it's the law. State law says all coaches, physical education teachers, school nurses, and athletic trainers must receive concussion management training every two years.
Before your child can play school sports, you must receive concussion management resources.
And, sometimes, the parents are the ones who approach coaches about taking their children out of the game, but they aren't the only ones showing concern.
"Almost 50-percent of the time now that I see an injury, or an athlete with a concussion, is because their teammates told the coaches or told the athletic trainer that they noticed something was wrong with them and I look at that as a very encouraging sign that these kids are looking out for each other just as much as we are," says Doctor Jason Matuszak, a concussion expert.
There is a recommended five step "return to play" protocol to get athletes back on the field where they gradually work back up to full training and wait 24 hours between each step.
"If it means missing one, two, three, maybe four games, it's not going to be the end of the world because the consequences on the other end could be dire. They could be permanent. All the way from a tragic loss of life to permanent disability," says Nelson. "So when it comes to the brain, you don't want to take any chances."
The state also has "return to learn" recommendations which could include going back to school for just half days, or getting less homework until the student has fully recovered.
Part of the process involves staying off of the computer and phone and not watching TV to allow your brain time to heal.