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Concussion program focuses on youth sports

Concussion program focuses on youth sports

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SALEM -- While coaches in high schools and middle school sports are required to be trained in recognizing and managing concussions, hundreds of coaches who work with younger athletes, in non-school sports such as Little League baseball and softball, youth football and youth wrestling, are not required to have that training.

But local youth coaches now have the chance to get the training for free.

The first of eight workshops planned over the next 10 months in southern Washington County is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Proudfit Hall.

Athletes, parents and coaches are invited to the free two-hour workshop, “Concussion Awareness in Youth Sports,” which is being presented by the Salem Rescue Squad as part of a Southern Washington and Northeastern Rensselaer County Mobile Integrated Health Care initiative.

The program will be held in Cambridge, Greenwich and Hoosick Falls throughout late summer and will be repeated in each community again in the spring. More details on those workshops will be available soon.

“Concussions are a significant concern in youth sports,” said Mark Spiezio, EMS manager of Cambridge Valley Rescue Squad. “There is very little training available for non-school affiliated youth coaches or even parents to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion or guidelines of the athletes to return to play.

“Little kids are just as susceptible to the injuries as 18-year-old football players. School coaches have to be trained, but as far as we know, there’s no league that requires concussion-awareness for youth coaches.”

Spiezio said his group was approached by two youth soccer coaches who said they needed to learn more about concussions.

This two-hour program will use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s concussion awareness program as its foundation. Participants will receive a number of handouts.

Spiezio said one of the best parts of the program helps train coaches how to deal with parents who want their children back in the game despite injuries and explains to parents why it is important to hold child-athletes out in some cases.

The Mobile Integrated Health Care initiative is a collaborative effort, involving The Cambridge Valley, Easton-Greenwich, Salem and town of Hoosick Rescue Squads to improve community health education and fill in the gaps of home health care. It is partially funded through a grant from the Mary McClellan Foundation.

Spiezio said the group hopes to start doing in-home elder care in the first quarter of 2015.

“That’s really a niche for us,” he said. “We were surprised at the number of programs that are no longer being funded, and this is a way we can help.”

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