CIF Sac-Joaquin Section takes crucial step to further protect high school athletes

Partners with concussion education and access to care organization
By: Special to Gold Country News
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The Sac-Joaquin Section and MindGame have formed a unique partnership to help protect high school student-athletes in Californiaʼs Central Valley.

The section is the governing body for high school sports; while MindGame is an organization dedicated to concussion education, baseline neurocognitivetesting and access to care for youth athletes.

Just weeks ago, the section Board of Managers voted unanimously to form this partnership. It is believed to be the first such partnership of its kind across the United States.

The Sac-Joaquin Section provides oversight to the athletic programs in nearly 200 high schools and felt that making this partnership official is the exact step needed to take in order to further protect student-athletes.

“This is the exact right thing to do … for kids, for parents, for our members schools. We are thrilled to partner with MindGame and look forward to staying ahead of this issue and providing crucial education and treatment that our young student-athletes need,” said Sac-Joaquin Section Commissioner Pete Saco.

Sports-related brain injuries have consistently filled news cycles for the past several years. The discussion arrived at a pinnacle when popular former NFL linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide; he was found later to have suffered from a condition caused by a series of traumatic brain injuries that altered his ability to make rational decisions.

MindGame, formerly known as the Sacramento Valley Concussion Care Consortium, was co-founded by Dr. Catherine Broomand in an attempt to bring professional-level concussion care, treatment and education to high schools.

With the full support of various partners in the health and financial institution sectors, MindGame tested its services in a dozen schools over the past year, including several schools from the Sac-Joaquin Section. High school student-athletes were administered a baseline test (called IMPACT) and then tracked over the course of their athletic participation.

When a traumatic brain injury occurs, that student is able to access care at any one of the four participating healthcare systems and receive the follow-up services necessary to keep the student-athlete from returning to the field too early.

“This test and program works. We test these kids and teach them about the realities of concussions. We work with coaches and administrators to make sure they have all the information they need. And we remove every barrier possible to ensure the student-athlete can return to the field when it is safe,” describes Dr.Broomand.

Together, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and MindGame have a goal to bring the program to every school and every athlete.

“We simply cannot afford to let this issue linger. There is too much on the line, and our parents and student-athletes are counting on us,” Saco said.