Sports-safety course emerges; mandated for coaches in state

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Sports-safety course emerges; mandated for coaches in state

UW Medicine creates evidence-based consumer website and e-learning portal on student athlete health issues


UW Medicine media contact: Susan Gregg, 206.616.6730

As the 2016 winter sports season swings into high gear, the UW Medicine Sports Health and Safety Institute (SHSI) today, Dec.5, announced the launch of an eLearning Portal for Washington state middle school and high school coaches.

The portal (at the bottom of this page) provides state-mandated training on concussions and other key health issues important to active youth. SHSI is rolling out the cloud-based tool in partnership with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), the state’s governing body of high school and middle school sports.

UW Medicine's eLearning Portal contains self-guided, online leanring courses covering concussion, sudden cardiac arrest, heat and hydration, nutrition and first aid. Upon completion of each course, participamnts will receive WIAA certification, a requirement for all youth coaches in the state. Coaches can gain free access to the eLearning courses through their school's athletic director or the WIAA coaches portal.

In parallel with the eLearning Portal, SHSI also launched its own website, which provides student athletes and the adults around them with balanced, evidence-based resources to better inform the important decisions they make every day. Materials on the website include tools to identify and manage concussions, information on the benefits of physical activity, training tips, summaries of current research and information on how athletescan enroll in medical research studies.

high-school football
Washington state now requires high school and middle school athletic coaches to be certified in recognizing and responding to suspected concussions.
picture of a football on a field at a high school game

“SHSI's  core purpose is to provide unbiased guidance based on the best research, and these two online tools greatly help us achieve those goals,” said Dr. Stan Herring, director of SHSI and medical director of the UW Medicine Sports, Spine and Orthopedic Health program. “Because we believe that sports have both inherent risks and the potential to make a lasting, positive contribution to each participant’s physical, mental, social and emotional health, the type of information taught in the eLearning Portal and available on our website is crucial to share with all stakeholders in youth sports.”

“The new portal will give coaches from across our state easy access to clear and current information that is needed to keep our young people safe, while continuing to encourage active, healthy lifestyles for our student-athletes,” said Mike Colbrese, executive director of the WIAA. “We’re proud of our affiliation with the UW Medicine Sports Health and Safety Institute on this project that will have an immediate and lasting impact on the safety of sports in Washington.”

Founded in 2015, the institute has three core activities:

  • Education: Safe sports, good health decisions, excellent care and informed policy begin with education. The institute’s educational materials are freely available to parents, athletes, coaches and medical professionals.
  • Advocacy: SHSI pursues policies and supports legislation that advance sports safety and health.
  • Research: SHSI collaborates with researchers to identify best practices for effective public health education, to change behaviors and make sports safer, and to advance knowledge about sports-related concussion.

The institute was largely inspired by the personal story of Zackery Lystedt, a Washington teenager who returned to play after suffering a concussion in a football game and who was afterward treated for a major head injury at Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine. Advocacy by Herring and others led to the Zackery Lystedt Law, which regulates athletes' return to play after a suspected concussion. The law was first passed in Washington state and quickly adopted by all other U.S. states and the District of Columbia. 

SHSI is an international education, advocacy and research organization devoted to helping people pursue an active lifestyle while providing tools to keep them safe and speed healing after illness or injury. Learn more at