Trainers tackle topic of football concussions

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

High school football season about to kick off but is School District 51 doing enough to keep student athletes from getting sidelined with head injuries?

Many football fans watch it for the hard hits but for the players it can result in concussions. Repeated concussions can lead to severe, even permanent damage. "Safety of the students is paramount," says Mike Kruger, athletic director at Palisade High School.

Concussions can occur in an instant and the key to successful treatment is sidelining a player immediately. Kruger says players are made to sit out at the direction of a trainer.

Concussions are categorized in three classes. From a Class 1 to the more severe Class 3 the most common in football is a Class 1. "Class one usually resolves in about 15 minutes," says Neurologist Dr. Neil Gilman.

If a player suffers a Class 1 and is allowed to go back and play, the results can be devastating. "Unrecognized initial injuries leading to second injuries can be quite severe," says Neurosurgeon Dr. Brian Witwer.

Kruger has taken a strong position on head injuries and sits a player out immediately. "We have a strict stance of having a player cleared before returning to play," says Kruger. On top of trainers being on the sidelines for every game, Kruger takes safety to the next level. "Coaches are also schooled on what to look for," he says.

In the end, sitting out a few games can mean playing even more down the road. "You can always come back next year, but if you get a more severe concussion it can mean not being able to ever compete again," says Witwer.

A study out by the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio, found that high school athletes sustained an estimated 137,000 concussions in the last school year, with football at the top of the list with more than 70,000.


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  • by Anonymous on Aug 27, 2009 at 06:53 AM
    My 15-year old son suffered a low-level concussion during football practice. Though ask any Mom, there's no such thing as "low-level" concussion. He did not tell his coach or athletic trainer that he received the injury during a tackle drill. He did not tell his Dad or me. He came home, suffering from a headache, and went to sleep. It wasn't until the following morning at practice that he began to experience the double vision, nausea, etc. I took him to the emergency room where he was tested and given a CAT scan. Thankfully he was okay. My point is that student players will at times "not" report injuries for fear of being removed from the team or losing playing time. Parents, just check for any changes in your childs' routine after practices. My son slept for nearly 13 hours and yes, while I did notice, I didn't do anything because he already accuse me of being the "over-protective" Mom. Just listen to that sixth sense all Moms have.
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