States Listening

We have stated on here that legislation is only a small step in the way of stemming the concussion issue.  Awareness is the of the highest priority for the general public (and partly for the medical providers) and both Maryland and Indiana reported some good news today.

In Maryland the State Board of Education discussed the information that Parent Advocate Tom Hearn presented in May.  The Baltimore Sun has the report;

Thomas Hearn, a Montgomery County parent whose son received a concussion playing football at Walt Whitman High School, has testified before the state school board and Montgomery County school board, asking members to consider requiring parents to get more training in recognizing the signs of concussions and limiting the number of contact practices. He said the new state law doesn’t go far enough.

High school students can still have contact practices twice a day and five days a week, Hearn said. While there are no reliable statistics on how many of the 115,000 athletes in public schools in the state suffer concussions while playing sports, he suggested that if you extrapolate from the experience of Virginia school systems that have kept careful records, there may be as many as 6,000 a year in Maryland.

Between now and the start of football season in August, you need to consider why you shouldn’t at least adopt the NFL and Ivy League limits for Maryland high school football,” Hearn said in his testimony before the board last month.

In 2011, the NFL limited practices with contact to about one a week. While the NCAA does not have the limits, the Ivy League adopted rules last July that permitted no more than two practices with contact a week.

The limits are intended to reduce the number of concussive hits players experience. Tackles or hits also can produce subconcussive injuries that do not have symptoms but over time have been shown to increase the risk of long-term health issues.

State school board members said they Continue reading

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Ten Reasons Your School Needs an Athletic Trainer

  1. A certified athletic trainer is the #1 healthcare provider trained and educated to work with athletes.
  2. A certified athletic trainer is trained to handle emergencies whether it’s a broken arm, a neck injury, or cardiopulmonary. All athletic trainers are trained in life-saving skills such as CPR and AED use.
  3. Athletic trainers are one of the best-educated professionals to recognize and manage concussions.
  4. Athletic trainers are proactive and spend a lot of time trying to prevent injury.
  5. Athletic trainers have hundreds of hours of related experience before they ever step foot into a full-time job. Continue reading

Can Small Schools (Districts) Handle The Concussion Issue?

With all the measures now being put into place a very interesting question is: can all high schools handle this?  The simple answer to this is: NO!

Required education for the coaches, parents and kids can only go so far; I have even touted this as the most important factor.  However, once there is “live fire” will it all sink in?  I believe it will, but not for all.  From personal experience, the high school I am at we have been hard at the awareness part for the above mentioned “players” in the concussion game and there has not been a 100% retention on the information or actions.  I would say that roughly 75-85% of those involved have grasped the information and action points.  I feel that our school is in a rather unique position as well; one of vigilant follow-up and re-education, almost to the point of annoyance.  How many schools have this going on?  Continue reading

Trends in Concussion Incidence in High School Sports

Mike Hopper takes a second to review a current research article, we would love to hear your take on this as well.

Concussions appear to continue to rise. Is it due to an increase in incidence or is it due to an increase in awareness? This study was conducted over an 11 year period in the Fairfax County School District in Falls Church, Virginia. The authors note that the numbers saw significant increases over the course of the study, but they do not attribute that to anything in particular.

The researchers conducted an 11 year study in a large school district with a certified athletic trainer on site for games and practices. Each school had 2 part-time athletic trainers from 1997-2005 and then a minimum of one full-time athletic trainer and one part-time athletic trainer after that.

A common occurrence is that football was the leading sport for concussion incidence. I think this fairly well-known at this point and no surprise. Girls’ soccer was #2 on the list which also should Continue reading

Sex Differences in Concussion Symptoms of High School Athletes

Here is a brief overview of the article out of the newest Journal of Athletic Training. I suggest you take a chance to read the entire article. It’s free to NATA members!

Frommer LJ, Gurka KK, Cross KM, Ingersoll CD, Comstock RD, Saliba SA. Journal of Athletic Training. Sex Differences in Concussion Symptoms of High School Athletes. 2011; 46(1):76-84.

An estimated 1.6-3.8 million sport-related concussions are reported each year with about 21% of those being high school athletes. The occurrence of injury in female athletes has continued to rise with the increase in sports participation and females have a higher incidence rate than males of sport-related concussions.

Research has shown that females may respond to concussions differently than males. Females tended to fare worse than male counterparts leading to longer hospitalizations, longer disability, and higher mortality rates. Females also require greater monitoring and more aggressive treatment due to symptoms not aligning with Glascow Coma Scale.

Hormones are believed to be a factor in the response to head trauma. Females tended to be more cognitively impaired after a sport-related concussion.

Males tended to report amnesia and confusion as a primary symptom more often than females. Females reported drowsiness and sensitivity to noise more often than males.

Males often returned to play 7-9 days post-injury while females had a greater percentage returning 3-6 days after a concussion.

This data is representative of what is actually taking place in the high school setting rather than in a research lab.

The outcomes of this study show there is little difference in severity of concussions between the two sexes, but it appears they present with different types of symptoms. Males reported more cognitive symptoms while females reported more neurobehavioral and somatic symptoms.

Why I got into Athletic Training

Time to introduce our newest blogger; Mike HopperI will let him describe a little about himself…

I am currently a certified athletic trainer working in a physical therapy clinic and providing outreach coverage to high schools in the Metro-East St. Louis area.  I graduated this past December with my bachelor’s degree in athletic training.  People ask why I would choose a profession that is relatively low-paying and has the hours that athletic training often does.

For a long time, I would say that it’s just what I love, which is true.  I love being around athletes, I love watching sports, and I have taken an interest into the healthcare of these athletes.  But it goes back to high school for why I have become so passionate about this profession.

I suffered concussions in high school.  Not a single one was ever diagnosed or even evaluated by a health care professional, but knowing what I know now, I am certain I had at least 3 of them, probably more than that.  But even 4-5 years ago, we did not know very much about concussions.  I “got my bell rung” but that was just part of being a football player.  I can remember now two specific incidents where I am certain I had symptoms that went unreported.

The first one was in a football game on a kickoff.  I got hit from behind and my facemask actually got stuck in the ground.  I got up a bit dizzy and headed for the sideline—the opponent’s.  I realized it quickly enough, but I developed a headache later.  Again none of it reported.  Then my senior year I was a catcher on the baseball team and took a foul tip Continue reading

Concussion Prevention Begins In School

As I have stated time and time again, education is the key to prevention of any injury.  But none is as important as the head injury.  Education Week published a story by Christina A. Samuels about such prevention.

“Football is such a macho sport. There’s a pervasive mentality in that sport” to ignore injuries, said Mike Carroll, the head athletic trainer at the 1,000-student Stephenville High School in Stephenville, Texas. “I really have to emphasize that this is not something you can walk off.”

Mr. Carroll, who has been at his school for 20 years, doesn’t have to fight too hard with the coaches when it comes to holding students out who have received concussions. But some students are still slow to report their injuries. Recently, one student who was injured Continue reading