“According to concussion experts, teenagers who sustain another blow to the head before they have recovered from a concussion are susceptible to second-impact syndrome — a condition in which arteries swell and pressure builds in the brain, often leading to a coma or death.”
Five days after a junior linebacker at Montclair High School died from a head injury sustained in a junior varsity game, the athletic director said Tuesday night that school officials planned to meet this week to develop a written policy for dealing with students who sustain concussions.
The athletic director, John Porcelli, said the policy would outline how students who sustain head injuries during games or practices should be examined. The policy would also explain the proper procedures for clearing students to return to playing after concussions have been diagnosed.
Last Thursday, Ryne Dougherty died of a brain hemorrhage, three days after he was injured while making a tackle. The injury came less than a month after Dougherty sustained a concussion during a practice Sept. 18.
Montclair High School said Dougherty received medical clearance on Oct. 6 to return to the team. Dougherty played one down in a varsity game Oct. 10 and sustained the second injury on Oct. 13 while playing in a junior varsity game.
The school’s interim principal, Judith Weiss, said last week that she had overheard at least one teammate lamenting that he had not told school officials that Dougherty was complaining of postconcussion symptoms after he had been cleared.
According to concussion experts, teenagers who sustain another blow to the head before they have recovered from a concussion are susceptible to second-impact syndrome — a condition in which arteries swell and pressure builds in the brain, often leading to a coma or death.
Porcelli said in a telephone interview that the school had not been negligent in the case of Dougherty. The creation of a policy, Porcelli said, would provide the school with a uniformed way of dealing with the issue in the future.
“We want everyone at the school to know what the policy is and be on the same page,” Porcelli said. “No matter what sport, we want to have a policy in place.”
The concussion policy disclosure came as Montclair High prepared for its game without its starting quarterback, Luke Iovine IV, who sustained a concussion during last Saturday’s victory over Ridgewood that was dedicated to Dougherty.
Iovine was injured as he tried to scramble for a first down. His father, Luke Iovine III, said Tuesday in a telephone interview that a mild concussion in his son had been diagnosed by a neurologist. Iovine will not play until he is symptom-free for at least a week, the father said.
“I have had to learn a lot since Saturday and have been reading a lot of articles about concussions because I didn’t have any education on this,” Luke Iovine III, who played quarterback for Montclair High (1981-82), said.
He added: “I don’t know what the school’s policy is, and what I have learned since Saturday is that there are neurological guidelines for the return of an athlete to contact sports after suffering a concussion.”
Anthony Delfico, an orthopedist who was the doctor on call at the Ridgewood game, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he was not aware of a uniform concussion policy for high schools in New Jersey. Delfico said he referred to the American College of Sports Medicine, which said that a player should not return to the field until he had been examined by a medical doctor.