Concussions increasingly common on the football field

SAL HEADINJURIES PIC5

Four Greenville High School athletes are out with concussions this year.

Concussions are becoming the most common injuries on the football field, especially among young players.

Greenville Head Coach Josh McLendon said he’s had four players this season with concussions and that’s a relatively low number. He said his team always gets banged up by the end of the season, but usually it’s much worse.

“A lot of times it happens at practice,” he said. “You try to not let it happen at practice, we have new guidelines and new rules that were put in place last year to try to limit the amount of contact that you have in practice, so that definitely helps.”

When one of McLendon’s players gets hit hard on the field, they are immediately checked out by the team’s physical trainer, Jason Peavy. Peavy said he’s seen more concussion diagnoses in the past five years than ever before. He doesn’t think the game is getting rougher or kids are getting hurt more often, he believes the increased education surrounding head injuries has raised awareness of symptoms.

“You know, before, you know, they’d get their “bell-rung,” get dizzy and have a headache and wouldn’t think anything about

SAL HEADINJURIES PIC3

Peavy checks the response of the pupils after a head injury. Concussed brains respond differently to light stimulation.

it,” Peavy added. “Wouldn’t tell the coach, wouldn’t tell a parent, it would just kind of go away. But know since we have made people more aware of it I think they’re coming to the forefront of it a little more.”

If a player has any symptoms of a concussion, including but not limited to dizziness, blurred vision, and headaches, they are brought out of the game to be examined. Peavy will run through a series of both mental and physical tasks over the course of 30 minutes. He preforms the tests multiple times, to see if there is any deterioration of the patient’s mental function.

If the player cannot pass the tests on the field, they have to sit out for the rest of the game and see a doctor for an examination the next day. After the patient stops exhibiting symptoms for 24 straight hours, they can begin rehab with Peavy. Peavy will spend three to four days stressing the mind and body to attempt to recreate the symptoms and make sure the brain has healed. After passing Peavy’s tests, the player can attend a no-contact practice. If there are still no symptoms, then the athlete is clear to play in the next game.

Concussions that go undiagnosed and untreated can often result in brain damage or death. That’s why if any player complains of a headache of any kind, they’re out of the game.

“That can be a little frustrating at some points, you know, sometimes with things like that, not really knowing if the kid is actually hurt or is he just having a migraine headache,” added McLendon. “But you can’t take that chance.”

SAL HEADINJURIES PIC

Coaches strongly advise playing with a head injury, no matter how important the game may be.

And both Peavy and McLendon urge players to speak up if they feel anything is wrong. Even if a symptom is mild, they say not getting it checked out can be deadly. And in their words, playing with a concussion isn’t worth winning a game.

Categories: South Alabama