As high school football season begins, there's a new focus on protecting young players from concussions. A new law takes effect soon, but some schools already have programs in place. The new law doesn't take effect till January 1st, but coaches are already preparing.
Schools, including Deerfield-Windsor require students to take a test that will help determine how seriously they're injured if they do suffer a concussion. Hard hits on the high school football field got the attention of state lawmakers who passed a law to protect young athletes from concussion-related injuries.
Deerfield-Windsor Head Football Coach Allen Lowe School says every student who wants to play sports at his school must take an "Impact Study." It's a 30 or 40 minute computer test that establishes a baseline for a student's mental health.
"If we have somebody that has had a slight concussion or a concussion they go in and take a similar test if not the same test and then it compares how they responded to short term memory so you have a baseline to go off of when the brain should of been healthy," said Lowe.
The new law will require teachers to take yearly concussion awareness classes. There is also a new "return-to-play" rule. "If a coach suspects that a player has a concussion, he has to refer that player to a certified medical professional, a doctor or athletic trainer who does an assessment and if a player has a concussion then the child may not return to play till the doctor gives clearance for that," said Deerfield-Windsor School Headmaster Dave Davies.
Lowe says coaches take possible head injuries much more seriously than they used to. "It used to be you would ask the child two or three questions and if they could answer them then you would put them back in, now were gonna make sure they see a health professional that looks at them before we put them back into a situation that could do further damage."
Coaches say they see less than half a dozen concussion related injuries a year, and of those, only a few turn out to be serious. "We try to do our best to make sure we diagnose as quick as possible."
Dr. Kiyoshi Yamazaki is a sports medicine physician and says the long term effects of a head injury, that's not properly treated can be deadly. "Untreated concussions multiple times can lead to catastrophic results death, or chronic sematic encephalopathy, or CTE, and that's some of the stuff your seeing on the news these days with the NFL, with sort of these multiple concussions built up to cause cognitive malfunction or depression or suicide."
He says symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, blurry vision, and nausea. Doctors encourage students who see their teammates with concussion related symptoms because again, the long term affects can be very serious if not treated. Doctors say the treat patients weekly, of all ages, who have concussion related symptoms.
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