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September is #Concussion Awareness Month

We all follow the Sports Concussion education tag line “when in doubt sit them out,” as long as we know to doubt. But that’s not as easy as the general public seems to think.

In the area of sports concussion, what we are doing well is establishing protocols for concussion treatment and return to play. What we’re still not doing so well is figuring out how to quickly determine if a player has a potential concussion to begin with. There are some really impractical expectations out there– things like “have a certified athletic trainer at every practice and game” (few places have the budget to have them at all practices as well as games) or "take the player out if there is a hard hit".

Between 50% - 90% of sports players don’t report concussion symptoms, partially because concussion symptoms aren’t necessarily glaring. Coaches aren’t always going to see a hit or the impact on field at the right angle to set off an alarm, especially in practice. Frankly, after a difficult play non-concussed players may have some of the symptoms that are associated with a concussion and the younger the player the more confused they can be with a play gone wrong. We all remember the disorientation of the first time we played a night game under lights or in a echoing big stadium, or even on a surface we weren’t accustom to. Of the symptoms of concussion some: acting confused, headache, memory loss, feeling like you’ve lost time, not thinking straight, being drowsy, can go with the playing territory. The more obvious symptoms, loss of consciousness, memory loss, nausea and vomiting, seeing flashing lights, unequal pupils are easier to see, and to use as a guideline.

Technology has helped in the quest to minimize brain trauma:

  1. Every players should have a baseline test (Baseline Cognitive Evaluation) done at the beginning of the practice season. When a concussion is suspected an identical test is then administered – the comparison of the tests helps in concussion diagnosis, treatment protocols and the return-to-play decision. In many places local hospitals will do baseline testing for free. If a local medical facility or university does not offer baseline testing , commercial baseline testing t is not prohibitively expensive and Athletic Trainers, School Nurses, Coaches, parents can be quickly trained to administer the tests. * (Interpretation requires a physician). Psychologically baseline testing has an enormous value; athletes know that if you test something, it’s important. And if it’s recognized as important players are more likely to tell the coach when they think they might have a concussion.

  2. Every coach should go through one of the sports concussion training courses.

  3. Team education. We expect a player to be taken out of the game for a broken leg; a concussion is a broken brain. A concussion affects your ability to focus in school & in life, an untreated concussions ups the risk for a second concussion , too many concussions can take you out of the game permanently and alter yourability to function permanently. There are Apps for smart phones that can help a player assess their own state- which helps take the “wimp” factor out of the equation.

  4. Keep your eye and budgets on technology which takes the “doubt” out of the equation. Stanford University’s football players have mouthpieces equipped with tiny sensors to measure the force of head impacts during games and practices .part of concussion research with mouthpieces donated by X2 Impact. Reebok and MC10 have developed a mesh cap which can be worn under a helmet that monitors impact to the head and uses a color “check light” at the back of the neck to signal dangerous impacts. Headbands with the same type of technology are available for soccer players. Within the next few years a lot of technology should hit the commercial market that will take most of the guess work out of “when in doubt.”

<p><span style="font-size: 14px;">** Safekids is giving away 3000 of The Concussion Recognition & Response™ App for Iphone and Android it’s an easy to use, good program. </p>&nbsp;

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