This is the continuation of a new program here at TCB. Called “Outreach”; the purpose is to publicize the good (we hope the vast majority) and sometimes the not so good of concussion management and experiences across this vast planet. One thing I realized real quick in Zürich is that the stories of the bad are relatively the same, usually highlighted in the media. Meanwhile the stories of good are different and helpful and not heard at all. I am asking our readers to send in stories of your cases (please be mindful identifying specifics) so we can share. There are vast stories in the comment section but I would like to bring forward as many as possible.
Ashlee Quintero was a soccer player at the University of Miami in 2009 when she sustained a concussion. Through this process she decided to become more involved in awareness and education of this injury. Below is her contribution to The Concussion Blog.
Dog, Cat, and Fish.
The more I am exposed to the public’s reaction to sports concussion (and that’s a lot, I am a youth soccer coach and the Concussion Program Coordinator at UHealth Sports Medicine), the more I realize how far we still have to go with concussion education. Despite the warnings, educational seminars, and the accessibility of concussion information on this little thing called the internet, coaches, youth coaches especially, are more often than not severely misinformed on how to screen who’s taken a hit. My most recent educational presentation really illustrated this need.
I am a youth soccer coach and volunteered to present concussion information to my fellow soccer coaches at our league’s pre-season coaches meeting. While I was speaking on Florida’s new concussion legislation and discussing the ever-difficult sideline evaluation and decision to sit a kid out, I got the inevitable questions, “Well, how do you know if it is a concussion? What’s the tell-tale sign I am looking for?” Before I could vocalize my response to those questions, one of my fellow coaches leaped from his seat and exclaimed “I know!” Intrigued by his enthusiasm and confidence, I invited him to share his thoughts.
His response, “If the kid can repeat back to you the words: dog, cat, and fish; they are fine to return to play!”
Those of you who follow the research and developments in treating athletic concussions are probably just as amused as I was at the naiveté of this statement: This is far from the criteria that should be used. Comedic as it may be, the passion with which he stated his diagnosis method only goes to show the frightening state of concussion knowledge among youth coaches.
Although they can end up doing much more harm than good, it is hard to put the blame fully on these coaches. They are often volunteers or parents, who do not have medical training or experience with these injuries, and only go by the information available to them. After all, when an athlete gets zonked on the head in the movies, a quick, reaffirming pat on the back from the coach and cheers from the crowd is the cure-all for concussions. In most sports not affiliated with a school and even some school sports, we do not have the luxury of a certified athletic trainer on site. So the decision to pull an athlete from play rests on the shoulders of uneducated coaches like my colleague, who by no fault of their own have this antiquated mindset.
The unfortunate truth is that the “Dog, Cat, Fish” mindset still exists in local parks and playing fields all around the United States. While there is no doubt, that progress is being made, the reality is that this concussion crisis is far from over. The good news is that people like you, readers of TCB, who are taking an interest in athlete safety and becoming ‘concussion crusaders’, spreading the word and educating those who will listen, are the solution to this problem. Hopefully with enough time and effort on your part, we will get away from using a page out of Dr. Seuss’ books as an accurate sideline assessment.
Ashlee touches on so many factors that are part of this concussion issue, her experience is a good one to reflect on, thank you Ashlee. In addition Ashlee would like to make readers aware of an event that will help with awareness and pay homage to a young man that can be used as an example of bettering our understanding. Please check back later for this information.