LSA Policy 213 - Youth Player Safety Initiatives describes how and when a player suspected of having suffered a concussion may be permitted to return to play. Coaches, parents and the players themselves are expected to become familiar with the dangers and symptoms of a concussion and to adhere to the policies, procedures and protocol established by Policy 213. Referees shall be familiar with the requirements of the Policy and shall strictly adhere to them. No one shall attempt to circumvent these procedures or protocol and no one shall attempt to encourage or influence a referee to do so either.
Concussion Injury Procedures and Protocol
If a qualified heath care provider (HCP) is present at the game, any player who sustains a significant blow to the head or body, who complains about or is exhibiting symptoms consistent with having suffered a concussion or is otherwise suspected of having sustained a concussion, must be evaluated by the HCP. Unless, after proper evaluation, the HCP determines that the player has not suffered a concussion and personally informs the center referee, the player will not be permitted to return to play until the player has successfully completed the graduated RTP protocol described below and has been cleared to play in writing by a physician.
Where an HCP is not present, any player who sustains a significant blow to the head or body, who complains about or is exhibiting symptoms consistent with having suffered a concussion or is otherwise suspected of having sustained a concussion must be removed from play and shall not return to play until and unless the player has been cleared to return to play in writing by a physician. The Policy sets forth the following Return to Play Protocol
a. the player must be symptom free at rest for 24 hours before commencing the protocol;
b. the player must be symptom free after moderate activity for 24 hours;
c. the player must be symptom free after heavy activity for 24 hours;
d. if a baseline test had bee performed on the player prior to his/her concussion injury, the player will retake the same baseline test and a licensed neuropsychologist must review and interpret baseline and post-concussion test results;
e. An HCP must confirm in writing to the player’s club that the player has completed the Return to Play protocol and
f. A licensed physician unrelated to the player must confirm in writing to the club that the player is approved to return to play.
Ban on Heading
In conjunction with the US Soccer Recognize To Recover Program and in the hope of curtailing concussive injuries at the youngest age group, Policy 213.5 establishes a ban on heading the ball. No player 10 years old or younger shall be permitted to head the ball in games or in training. Players participating in any U12 program and younger shall not engage in heading, either in practices or in games. In the event a player, in the discretion of the referee, intentionally heads the ball in a game at the U12 level of competition or younger, the referee shall immediately stop play and award the opposing team an indirect free kick.