One day after a 12-year-old boy died from a heatstroke he suffered at football practice two weeks ago, Fulton County officials said they’re making changes to local athletic associations, according to Channel 2 Action News.
“Of course, his mom and dad are both devastated,” Tolbert’s aunt, Rozhange Landers, told the station. “It’s their only child (and) a terrible loss.”
The Fulton Parks and Recreation Department suspended all football practices in the wake of the incident, Channel 2 reported. The county has also ordered that local athletic associations prove its coaches are properly certified, including being trained on heat and hydration protocols and concussion prevention.
The county also said it will implement additional measures, Channel 2 reported.
While the measures could help save another young athlete’s life, Tolbert’s family is still trying to come to grips with his death.
“We’re totally depending on God’s grace and His peace to get us through this,” Landers told Channel 2. “We don’t know any other way.”
The family set up a GoFundMe account to assist with funeral costs. It had raised more than $6,300 as of Friday afternoon.
Habersham, Raisa. “12-year-old’s Heatstroke Death Prompts Football Changes.” AJC.com: Atlanta Georgia News, AJC Sports, Atlanta Weather. AJC, 29 July 2016. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.
We often hear concussion is a worry for parents whose tween or teen participates in sports. What usually gets less attention is that younger children also suffer from concussions and that their symptoms may not have a typical manifestation.
Is there concern if your younger child has suffered a concussion and you missed it? Here is some information to help you answer these questions.
1. We depend on the child’s complaints, performance and behaviors to diagnose a concussion. Concussion is a brain injury caused by a forceful bump, blow, or shaking of the head. The head does not need to be hit for the brain to be injured as some concussions occur only with head shaking, especially if the shaking is sudden and forceful. The brain injury cannot be detected by taking CT or MRI pictures of the brain.
What causes the brain injury in concussion is a change in the way brain cells use energy, communicate with each other as well as leaking of blood chemicals into the brain rather than physical changes in the brain. The doctor will know if a child has suffered a concussion based on the child’s complaints, level of functioning, and behaviors that imply that the brain is not functioning normally.
Credit: JAMA Pediatrics
2. Concussions are becoming more common in younger children. A recent article describing 8,000 concussions occurring in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia health system between 2010 and 2014 reported thatone-third of all concussions occurred in children under the age of 12. Many of these concussions were first treated by the primary care provider and not the emergency room showing that pediatricians are the ones that handle most concussions in younger children. While this is anecdotal, I can say that as a pediatrician, I have noticed in my practice that I am seeing more concussions and those occurring at an earlier age than perhaps 10 years ago.
3. The child’s complaints, performance, and behaviors that doctors use to diagnose concussion differ with the child’s age. Typically, concussion in a child 12 years or older is spotted by the coach or parent after a sports injury when he or she shows typical symptoms of fainting, nausea, headache, memory or concentration problems, balance problems or vision problems immediately following the injury. This is often suspected after a positive “sideline” assessment using a standard concussion questionnaire. In a younger child, the symptoms may be different.
A younger child might injure his or her head at home, playground, school or day care. The parent might not be aware of the circumstances or even that the injury occurred. A child may underreport symptoms to avoid getting in trouble or to go back to play. A child may also over report symptoms to skip school. A younger child should be suspected of having a concussion if there is a head injury AND the child has symptoms such as irritability, sudden mood changes, appetite change or sleep problems. These symptoms may be alone or in addition to the typical symptoms of loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, headaches, balance problems, and concentration difficulty seen in older children.
What if I missed a concussion in my child? Are there future consequences? We know that head injuries cause worse concussion symptoms if the child has had a previous concussion. Children having multiple concussion are at increased risk for prolonged recovery. Here is what you can do to avoid missing a concussion and to prevent long term consequences:
Read up on signs and symptoms of concussion. Then you will be less likely to miss one. One of the best places to read about concussion in children is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website called HEADSUP.
When in doubt, see the doctor. If you suspect a concussion, then go to your child’s doctor as soon as possible. An emergency room visit is warranted if your child has any of these symptoms: progressively worsening headache, vomiting, difficulty waking up or paying attention, seizures, slurred speech or balance problem on standing up.
Rest is always the first step. If you suspect a concussion, having your child rest physically and mentally, and removing her from sports is always a safe bet until you can see or talk to your doctor. This is important since treatment of concussion starts with this kind of rest. Your doctor will recommend the ultimate duration of this rest and if any additional treatment is needed.
FAAP, Amer Kechli M.D. “How Do I Know If My Younger Child Has a Concussion?” Philly.com. Philly.com, 21 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2016.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is best for teen athletes.
Conditioning for fall sports, like football, cross country and even marching band, has started but research shows that heat-related deaths are behind most indirect deaths in highschoolsports. Parents need to make their athlete take it slow when starting outdoor workouts and be aware of the dangers.
Heat exhaustion happens when the body’s natural cooling system gets tired from working too hard. Symptoms include fatigue, profuse sweating, dizziness and decreased exercise performance.
“When an athlete notices these symptoms, it is time for a break to cool off,” says Dr. Lora Scott, medical director of sportsmedicine at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Sometimes ten minutes at the water cooler is enough. Other times, they may need shade or air-conditioning for several hours. They are at higher risk of getting sick again for 24 hours.”
Heat stroke happens when the body starts to shut down because it is too hot. If nothing is done, the person will die. An athlete with heat stroke may look like they have heat exhaustion, but they also start to have nervous system symptoms. These could be mild, like confusion or a short temper. They could be more serious, like seizures or loss of consciousness.
“Cooling within 30 minutes is the best predictor of life or death, in this situation,” says Dr. Scott. “Call 911 and do whatever it takes to cool them off fast.”
Heat stroke prevention day is July 31, one day before official practices for many sports begin. It’s a good time to review these tips.
Allow time to adapt. “Let kids start with easy outdoor training sessions to give the body time to adapt,” says Dr. Scott. “They may not be able to do their usual workouts when they move from the indoors to the outdoors. That is OK. Give it time.”
Stay hydrated. “Elite athletes can sweat up to four liters per hour!,” says Dr. Scott. “It is not practical to drink four liters in an hour, so practicing good hydration all day is important.” Drink until urine is colorless or very light yellow.
Listen to your body. If you feel overworked, it means your body is not ready for this level of exercise in this level of heat. You either need to cool off, or ease up on the exercise, or both. Take the time to condition safely.
Educate coaches. Make practice easier on the hottest days or move it indoors. Give the team unlimited access to water.
Take a collapsed athlete seriously. Make sure you are following the American College of SportsMedicine’s guidelines on length, intensity and frequency of practice.
Treat suspected heat stroke.
If an athlete acts strangely, think heat stroke. “Call 911 and cool them off immediately,” says Dr. Scott.
“Place them in a tub of ice water, pour water from a cooler over them, put ice packs on their neck, armpits and groin, use a garden hose if you have to. This is a life-or-death situation, and treatment is easily available and free.”
Dayton Children Hospital. “Preventing Heat Stroke in Young Athletes – Athletic Business.” Athletic Business. Athletic Business, 27 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2016.
It’s a violent game that makes a lot of parents uneasy, but numbers for Pee Wee football continue to grow in the Miami Valley.
Safety is a major concern for the estimated 15,000 kids who will suit up for teams around the Dayton area this fall. Concussions are a constant concern no matter if the athlete is 6 years old or 16. The idea is to teach the proper techniques at an early age.
That’s why several local coaches spent a morning recently at Beavercreek High School learning how to teach youngsters to play the game the right way and educating adults on keeping the players safe.
It’s part of a program called “Heads Up Football,” which was developed by USA Football to help lessen the impact of concussions.
“The most important thing is having a controlled environment for practice to get them ready for games,” said Pee Wee coach Darrin Roth. “That way they know how to tackle, they know how to fall and they know the proper form when it’s time time to go full speed.”
Roth is the player-safety coach for the Western Ohio Junior Football Conference. He admits the game at the youth level has changed in the last decade to reflect problems that could persist as players get older, faster, and stronger.
“The kids health is more important to me than winning,” he said. “I’m going to make sure that if that kid tells me he has a headache and he doesn’t feel good, he’s not playing again until he gets checked out by a doctor.”
The clinic also focused on providing the proper equipment and making sure a child doesn’t take the field with a helmet or shoulder pads that doesn’t fit.
“We have to make sure that players are comfortable in their gear and not afraid to hit,” Roth said. “Just because we’re wearing equipment doesn’t mean we’re invincible, but we’re trying to teach a new way of football and make sure the kids are safer and most important, having fun.”
Hartsock, Mike. “USA Football Program Aims to Lesson Impacts of Youth Concussions.” Dayton Daily News. DDN, 20 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2016.
As a football referee, Alex D’Agostino began to observe a game that in many ways was becoming more dangerous.
He decided to do something about that.
D’Agostino teams up with USA Football to serve as a master trainer who travels the country putting on coaching clinics that emphasize safety on the gridiron.
On Saturday, D’Agostino led a “player safety coach clinic” for local youth football coaches from Hannibal, Palmyra and other surrounding areas — all who coach teams younger than the high school level.
“We want to start the kids out right with safety about heat and hydration, sudden cardiac arrest and concussion awareness, while also teaching the fundamentals of blocking and tackling,” D’Agostino said. “We want them to start out correctly in their youth levels and make sure their coaches are certified.”
The four-hour session was split into two segments. For the first two hours, the coaches gathered for a meeting at Fiddlestiks Food and Spirits, where D’Agostino talked about the importance of USA Football’s Heads Up football program.
The rest of the time was spent on the field at Hannibal High School, where the youth coaches endured the heat to practice tackling and blocking drills they will soon implement with their own teams. Each drill focused on players keeping their heads up, which statistics indicate lowers the chance of injury.
The training also extends beyond the field, D’Agostino said. Coaches who completed the clinic were instructed on proper equipment fitting, especially when it comes to helmets.
“We see the need to enhance the safety practices,” Hannibal youth coach Jason Ross said. “We know what we’re doing here in Hannibal, but it’s just to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
For many local leagues, USA Football’s Heads Up training is nothing new. The clinic was a “refreshing course,” Palmyra youth coach Ben West said.
“You’re always learning something new,” he said. “What we try to do as coaches is teach fundamentals. Safety is a huge process. Watch out for the kids, make sure they’re learning and having fun. That’s what my main goal is.”
According to USA Football, more than 1,100 high schools and nearly 70 percent of all U.S. youth leagues enrolled in Heads Up Football in 2015. The program is endorsed by a combined total of 26 state high school athletic associations and high school football coaches associations spanning 21 states.
The lessons learned at the training were not supposed to be left on the field Saturday. Each coach plans to tell their fellow coaches about what they learned and monitor practices and games throughout the rest of the year.
“We’re going to make sure every level is doing this,” West said.
Ross said he’s fortunate to have only seen one concussion injury in his four years as a coach. The training, though, is to “improve the culture.” The local coaches agreed the program should ease concerns of the danger of football, especially when it comes to parents uncertain whether they want their children to play. “We’re trying to make a better, safer game,” D’Agostino said. What would he say to those who still think football isn’t a safe game? “My son played for nine years,” he said. “I was the coach. That should answer.” The turnout of about 10 coaches on Saturday was smaller than most of USA Football’s clinics. That, though, does not make it any less important, D’Agostino said. “It’s a great group of volunteers coming out to make sure they’re trained the right way, that they can go back and train their coaches,” he said. “Hopefully, the conversations we’ve had with them, they’ll bring it back to their programs.”
Graeler, Kevin. “A Heady Subject: Local Youth Coaches Participate in USA Football Safety Training.” Hannibal Post. Hannibal Post, 18 July 2016. Web. 20 July 2016.
Toronto FC and Holland Bloorview are working to give youth baseline testing and concussion education.
Remy Cattell took a baseline concussion test with her hockey team ― she was a random participant in a study by the concussion centre at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital ― but an incident on the soccer field landed her back at the centre, tired and dizzy.
Cattell had just started the eighth grade when a fellow player on her Leaside Tigers competitive soccer team cleared a ball from the team’s defensive end.
The ball hit Cattell, about five metres away, in the head.
She was knocked to the ground. The ringing in her ears kept her from hearing anything properly. She left the game but tried returning, ultimately for just a few minutes, once the ringing stopped.
Two years on, Cattell, 14, knows she suffered a concussion, the blow to her head enough to jiggle her brain. But at the time, she wanted to play.
“I didn’t really know about concussions or that it could happen to me,” Cattell said. “It probably was made worse than it needed to be.”
Her mother Cory and their family doctor didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t until Cory remembered the baseline test that Cattell returned to Holland Bloorview for help.
“When it first happened, I was so lost,” Cory said. “Calling the doctor, trying to find out what do I do, who do I call, how do I get help, what kind of things am I supposed to look for?”
A lack of awareness about concussions and how to deal with them is not unusual in young athletes and their parents, said Dr. Nick Reed, co-director and clinician scientist in Holland Bloorview’s Concussion Centre.
And while soccer might not be the foremost sport associated with the brain injury, it is still a contact sport that sees a tremendous amount of head contact, according to Michael Rabasca, Toronto FC’s director of high performance.
That’s part of the reason why the two organizations have teamed up for a one-year collaboration. The joint effort will focus on youth players in Toronto FC’s Academy. They will participate in the same baseline testing program Cattell did, and they will receive concussion education and training.
Reed and Rabasca hope teaching the group about concussions, while studying their tests for research, will be a step toward a safer game, both at the professional level and in amateur athletes like Cattell.
To date, Reed said, what’s lacking in people’s understanding of concussions is not the physical symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness and nausea.
“The injury itself has a wide range of symptoms: physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural symptoms,” he said.
Young people recover differently, and sometimes more slowly, from concussions than adults, Reed said.
Cattell considers herself “pretty lucky” that she was only out of school for about a month. Two years later, she still plays soccer but doesn’t head the ball.
Initially, though, the stress of people not understanding her “invisible” injury hindered her recovery.
“People were still expecting me to be fine. I told my teacher I had a concussion but he was still sending me homework and still expecting me to get assignments done,” she said.
At that time, Cory said, her daughter struggled to even read.
“I was scared people wouldn’t believe me, because you can’t even see it,” Cattell said.
In professional sports, Rabasca said, sometimes such invisible injuries go unacknowledged.
“There is this hunger, desire, the social norm says, ‘You play, you don’t sit.’ We have too many examples of that at the pro level,” he said.
While those players’ intentions might be good, they’re not examples Rabasca wants Toronto FC’s academy players to follow.
In a group of about 120 participants, Rabasca believes between eight and 12 per cent of players have concussion concerns each season.
With the help of Holland Bloorview’s assessment and follow-through protocols, Rabasca says there is much less subjectivity when dealing with head injuries.
Today, he’s confident he’s sending fully fit players back on the field after a concussion.
“We’re not taking a gamble. We’re not sending players back on the field saying, ‘Our best bet is you’re going to be okay.’ ”
Armstrong, Laura. “Soccer Collaboration Tries to Get Ahead on Youth Concussions | Toronto Star.” Thestar.com. The Star, 17 July 2016. Web. 20 July 2016.
The following article originally appeared in the June issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Become a member today and receive the magazine delivered right to your mailbox.
Patrick Foley can still remember some of the less flattering feedback he received when he made it clear he would pursue a lacrosse career.
A 175-pound defenseman isn’t going to start at the college level. It definitely wasn’t enough for a good Division I team. Maybe he could make an impact as a long stick midfielder, but surely not on close defense.
“That definitely got to my head,” Foley said. “That’s definitely a huge focal point for this summer, to change that. I don’t want to give up any speed. I think that’s an important part and unique side to me. But with this aggressive attitude I can have, I definitely want some weight to throw around with that, too.”
At 6 feet and 175 pounds, Foley doesn’t fit the stereotype as a bruiser. But he’s the first freshman to regularly start on close defense for Johns Hopkins since Tucker Durkin (an eventual two-time Schmeisser Award winner) in 2010, and he’ll play for the United States’ under-19 national team in this summer’s world championships in Canada.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t pick up a stick until the summer before his freshman year of high school and wasn’t even on Johns Hopkins’ radar until assistant coach Bill Dwan was impressed with his footwork at a camp the summer before his senior year. Now, he’s an indispensable part of the Blue Jays’ defense and quickly gaining ground as he learns more about the game.
“He grows every week,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “He’s not overwhelmed by the moment.”
It arrived quickly. Foley made his high school freshman team just months after trying the sport and moved from midfield to close defense in the middle of that first season. As a late bloomer, it appeared he would likely take a postgraduate year and reclassify as a member of the class of 2016.
That changed in the summer of 2014 when he got a call from one of his coaches at 3d Lacrosse.
“He tells me Johns Hopkins had just called and was interested in looking at me,” Foley said. “I lost my mind. It was as a 2015, too. That was, in my opinion, the best combination of academics and the way I learn and lacrosse. When that call came, I was ecstatic. My mind was made up for the most part.”
Things got even better once he visited campus for a game last spring and got to know two-time Johns Hopkins captain Michael Pellegrino. The two share some characteristics — blue-collar background, a bit undersized, ferocious competitors — and Foley found the long pole to be a source of excellent insight.
For his part, Pellegrino walked away from his first extended conversation with Foley convinced the Winchester, Mass., native would thrive at Homewood.
“You can just tell when someone has an edge and they have what it takes,” Pellegrino said. “It’s not really defined. You just know it. The kid is ready to go and ready to fight and anything you give him, he’s going to take it and he’s going to run with it.”
Foley’s done so throughout his freshman year. There were some learning experiences early, particularly in a loss to North Carolina, but a month later he was playing on the faceoff wings and scoring a goal at Virginia. Later, he held slick Penn State attackman Grant Ament to two assists.
“He’s got a little grit to him,” Pietramala said. “He’s not a big guy. He’s got a little chip on his shoulder and plays that way. He’s not big enough to be super-physical, but he has a little nasty streak to him.”
It’s served him well at Johns Hopkins, and figures to do so again this summer for the U.S. U19 team. His attitude, combined with a year of high-level college experience, will be a significant asset for the American defense.
“It’s such an honor to be part of that USA U19 lacrosse team, especially from where I started,” Foley said. “It was a long process and there were points I thought I did not play up to par and my spot was challenged. Overall, when I got the final phone call from [coach] Nick Myers saying that they’re welcoming to the team and they’re excited to have me play and represent the country — like, the country, wow — I was at a loss for words.”
The same might be true of those who told Foley he had little chance to earn playing time at close defense for prominent Division I program. He finds himself understanding the game better by the week and getting exponentially better.
It’s fair to wonder just what Foley’s ceiling is, though he’s far more concerned about the here and now.
“I have to take advantage of what’s in front of me first,” Foley said. “The fun part is that you don’t know what’s expected. Things are going to pop up that I’ve never heard of before. It’s going to be a cool experience and a cool ride to be on, but none of it comes without working hard and getting better every day.”
Stevens, Patrick. “Late Bloomer Foley Now on Team USA.” Late Bloomer Foley Now on Team USA. US Lacrosse, 15 July 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
Few words in sports raise a red flag as high as the word “concussion.”.
Whether on the sidelines, on television or even in major motion pictures, concussions are one of the most comprehensive topics in sports of all levels.
And with the Andrews Institute providing sports-medicine assistance for schools in Escambia, Santa Rosa and northern Okaloosa counties, prep sports in the PNJ-coverage area lead the state when it comes to concussion safety.
In addition to providing a team physician and multiple certified athletic trainers to each school the Andrews Institute oversees, the organization holds yearly baseline concussion testing to help certified athletic trainers and team physicians make the right calls on concussion-related issues during the season.
This summer, the Andrews Institute is amidst its second-annual set of baseline concussion testing, and has already held testing at 14 schools after setting up at Pensacola High on Wednesday.
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“The buzz word right now in any sport is concussion,” PHS head football coach Mike Mincy said. “Anything we can do to help cut down, prevent and help diagnose concussions … we’re all for it. I think with the Andrews Institute around (this area) is the front runner in the state when it comes to dealing with all types of injuries. We are so fortunate to have Andrews in the community to take the lead on things.”
Baseline concussion testing puts players through three types of neurocognitive evaluations (balance, vision, reaction time) to develop a “baseline assessment” for each participant.
In the event that a student-athlete experiences concussion-like symptoms later on, certified athletic trainers will use an athletes original assessment to compare to present cognitive skills.
“Baseline concussion testing does not replace clinical decision making, but it helps give us more quantitative data that we can use to help determine if an individual is ready to return to play,” said Kathleen McGraw, certified athletic trainer for the Andrews Institute and coordinator for baseline concussion testing. “We see concussions in every sport. Certainly concussions are more prevalent in football due to the nature of the sport. But we see concussions for both boys and girls sports and also in non-contact sports. Also, some student athletes sustain concussions outside of sports. Our job is to get them back safely to their sport.”
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Baseline concussion testing is one element of the sports medicine outreach program (conducted by the Andrews Institute), which also includes free sports physicals and a free injury clinic on Saturdays from August 20-November 12.
“Baseline concussion testing adds a tool to our toolbox to help us feel more confident with decision making,” McGraw said, in her ninth year with the Andrews Institute. “As a medical field, there is still a lot we don’t know about concussions. But we are continuing to learn on a regular basis. We treat concussions drastically different than we did five, 10, 20 years ago. I think we will continue to gain more knowledge and I’m glad to see concussions are something that people take seriously.”
With certified athletic trainers at their assigned schools each weekday during the school year, coaches, players and trainers develop a strong bond in the chase for mainly one thing – player safety.
“(Certified athletic trainers) make the final call on whether or not a player is on the field or not. Team physicians get those players back on the field as fast as possible, but make sure they are healthy and ready to go,” Mincy said. “With the issues we deal with every day as coaches, we work with our trainers daily. We put it in their hands and stay in communication every day.”
Achatz, Brian. “Testing Maximizes Safety for Area Prep Athletes.” Pensacola News Journal. Pensacola News Journal, 14 July 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
The concussion issues in sports have been a huge topic for years, especially in the NFL. A new study published by FAIR Health suggests that the issues have continued to become a huge concern across a range of youth sports in the United States for boys and girls.
FAIR Health’s study concluded that concussion diagnoses for people under the age of 22 rose 500 percent from 2010 to 2014. FAIR Health is a not-for-profit whose “mission is to bring transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information.” This study was conducted “based on healthcare insurance claims 2007-2015, ages 0-22 years.”
The study shows that the highest prevalence of concussions occurred between September and October every year. Those two months usually span almost the entire youth football season across the United States. High school age kids are the most likely to suffer a concussion, with 46 percent of diagnosed concussions occurring for those between 15 to 18.
The FAIR Health study also finds that boys are more likely to get a concussion on average. Although it is not always the case, such as in Pennsylvania where girls are diagnosed at a slightly higher rate.
We have covered technologies focused on curbing concussions here on numerousoccasions. New technology is popping up regularly in the fight to prevent concussions as well as detect them. Mainly, new football helmet technology is being developed at a rapid rate. But mouthguards, catcher’s chest protectors, soccer headbands and many more innovations are also joining the fight against concussions at all levels, especially for young people.
In the United States concussions for those under 18 could be as high as 1.9 million annually according to a report by The American Academy of Pediatrics. That number is staggering and underlines the need to help improve safety measures as well as making sure concussions are diagnosed and treated. The same study suggests that as many as 44 million kids play youth sports in the U.S.
There are a lot of different numbers regarding youth sports participation and the prevalence of concussions in those sports, but no matter what direction the numbers skew concussions clearly occur very often.
Youth sports are a vital part of many peoples’ lives. They are intertwined within the fabric of not just American society but the world. Kids will continue to play sports no matter how prevalent concussions might be. This puts an even bigger spotlight on the hundreds if not thousands of sport technology companies who are fighting to make youth sports as safe as possible, so generations of kids can continue to play the sports they love.
Rains, Ben. “Concussions In Youth Sports Up 500 Percent According To Study.” SportTechie. SportTechie, 12 July 2016. Web. 13 July 2016.
Winning a game, a gold medal or even a world championship isn’t worth suffering a serious brain injury.
When it comes to concussions, science is taking the guesswork out of whether an athlete should sit or play after a head impact.
Kerry Pavlovic, a certified athletic therapist at the Bowen Medical Group in Stoney Creek, said advance preparation can help athletes, coaches and parents spot concussion symptoms before they become permanent.
“If you misdiagnose or ignore the signs of a concussion and continue playing, there is something called second impact syndrome, which means, then you’re getting further brain damage,” said Pavlovic.
On a second impact, athletes can be susceptible to rapid brain swelling or bleeding.
“Without the recognition that a concussion has occurred, you’re putting kids and athletes at serious risk of permanent damage,” said Pavlovic.
Luckily, Pavlovic and her colleagues at Bowen have developed a baseline concussion testing program. The program, delivered through an in-person seminar, puts athletes through a series of memory and cognitive tests, before they suffer concussion-like symptoms.
Once a head injury occurs, a physiotherapist then re-tests the athlete, either the same day or the next day, and continually re-tests the athlete to determine how his or her scores compare.
A baseline concussion test takes about 20 to 30 minutes and can include reciting the names of the months backwards or completing a balance test. The objective is merely to determine a baseline reading.
Bowen athletic therapists deliver their seminars by attending team practices and league events, and also through in-clinic sessions. After completing the baseline tests, results can be shared with coaches, parents and health care professionals to better judge whether athletes have sustained a concussion.
Bowen has so far partnered or agreed to provide baseline concussion testing for the Stoney Creek Girls Hockey Association, the Ontario Boxing Association and the Hamilton Basketball Association.
As Bowen physiotherapist and clinic partner Christina Marie Dzieduszycki explained, a concussion doesn’t just occur from a blow to the head.
“It can be from a turn or a twist or a whiplash mechanism, so a lot of times people ignore those types of causes,” she said.
While there is no definitive medical diagnosis for a concussion, a patient may feel dizzy, nauseous, confused or disoriented. More severe warning signs include sensitivity to light or sound and balance problems.
“Each kind of concussion affects an athlete in a different way. A lot of it depends on your injury history, your age, your sex. You don’t really know,” said Pavlovic.
“The big impact of this is that most of the athletes who get concussions want to go back and play right away,” said Dzieduszycki. “That’s why it’s really important for players, coaches and parents to recognize that, okay, maybe we need to take the baseline that we did and see where you are right now.”
While there is no way to completely prevent concussions in any contact sport, Pavlovic said about 85 per cent of athletes can return to action a few days to a few weeks after being concussed.
For more information, contact Bowen Medical Group at 905-560-2300.
Pearson, Mike. “Stoney Creek Clinic Helps Coaches, Parents Spot Concussion Warning Signs.” Hamilton News. Hamilton News, 13 July 2016. Web. 13 July 2016.