Outreach: Ashlee Quintero

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.

6 thoughts on “Outreach: Ashlee Quintero

  1. Karen Walton February 19, 2013 / 10:04

    In 2011 My 14 yr old son died playing rugby. He was assessed 4 times on the pitch. The coach passed his finger across his eyes from side to side. My son died from massive swelling to the brain. He had a cut lip & numerous ‘minor’ injuries to his brain all sustained during the one match. Nobody takes concussion seriously, coaches & referees all say that it’s normal for a child to feel dazed after they take a tackle during rugby. Not once was a balance test carried. My son didn’t stand a chance. I was on the sidelines and when I called out to my son in fear the referee told me to calm down. My son was a fit healthy boy, he became an organ donor at the age of 14. I m totally sickened by the rugby world attitude to concussion.

    • Educator Mom February 19, 2013 / 16:46

      Thank you for sharing your story and I am sorry for your loss. My son was a 14 year old wrestler who experienced multiple hits to the head during match, even after he was assessed. We are thankful that he survived his injuries but he continues to experience symptoms ever day (after 2 years) that affect his personal, physical, and academic life. At the time of his injury, his coaches were completely unaware of what to look for. Stories like your son’s and mine along with the experiences and passion of people like Ashlee Quintero will hopefully make a positive change in this culture of sports and concussions. Our children are far too valuable a resource to waste!

      • Karen Walton February 20, 2013 / 17:11

        Thank you. I hope your son continues to make good progress. Unfortunately coaches , referees will probably know the rules of the sport inside out but the health and safety dosn’t seem to be as important. There seems to be the view if they can’t see an obvious injury then everything must ok. Unfortunately a blow to a child that leaves that child dazed seems to be acceptable by some.

      • Kris Pitcairn February 20, 2013 / 17:58

        PLEASE, I beg of you, look at Brainwave Optimization with RTB (real time balancing). Brain State Technologies, http://www.brainstatetech.com, has helped MANY post TBI cases, and continues to do so! Wake Forest University is doing a clinical study on this exact situation, and so far, the results are promising. THERE IS NO NEED for these precious kids and adults to continue to suffer! THERE IS HOPE!! Please spread the word. It’s a non-invasive, non-toxic, leading edge, individually tailored neurotechnology created by someone suffering from PTSD from a traumatic brain injury due to a baseball bat blow (mugging). He (Lee Gerdes) had a background in physics, math, computer programming, data patterning, psychology and theology. Good, good stuff! It’s technical/scientific name is HIRREM (High-resolution, relational, resonance-based electroencephalic mirroring). God bless you all!

    • Matt Chaney February 20, 2013 / 08:29

      Mrs. Walton, I have been touched by stories of severely injured young athletes for a long time on TCB, including the son of Educator Mom, and I extend heartfelt sympathy now to you for Benjamin. I remember your son’s tragedy in world news, 2011, as I combed for cases of grave casualties in American football. And, indeed, the callousness of Lord Sport is cruelest at the very times of greatest need for empathy and support of victims, their families. I’ve seen it firsthand in American football, terrible casualties of young people, including friends, even myself (for crippling lower-leg paralysis). And I guess that’s just money talking, as we say in Missouri USA. God bless, Mrs. Walton. Contact me anytime if I might assist. http://www.fourwallspublishing.com

      • Karen Walton February 20, 2013 / 17:02

        Thank you Mr Chaney. We as a family are devastated. My son’s injury was initially described as a freak accident. I was at the match and knew that Benjamin s injuries were not the result of one blow to the head. I believe Mr Cantu was consulted by one of the doctors involved in research surrounding my son. In August/ Sept 2012 we endured 6 days of an inquest which was then adjourned for further reports etc. It’s sickening to hear that coaches and referees readily accept that a child would be dazed after a big hit during sport but don’t see any harm in letting that child play on. There seems to be a view that if there is no obvious injury then everything is ok. A further date for the inquest has not been set as yet.

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