Concussions taken more seriously

Published: Sep. 9, 2019 at 4:02 PM EDT
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It's high school football season which means kids are headed to the field to hit, hit, win. However, with high school football games underway, athletic trainers see a rise of students coming in with concussions.

The athletic training team for Marquette Senior High School says concussions are the number one injury in high school football.

According to Certified Athletic Trainer, Mark Stonerock, concussions are now being treated more seriously than in years past.

"Concussions are a little bit different animal. We used to think that they were a bruise on the brain, or something like that, but actually what happens is it's a biochemical reaction. That means that the brain can't process things that way it normally would,” said Stonerock.

When a student is hit on the field, athletic trainers immediately test them with something called "the Scat 5." This test determines memory, balance, and a host of other symptoms pertaining to concussion. If the test reveals an athlete might be concussed, that player is removed from the game.

"You have to think that the brain is somewhat like a floating substance. It floats around in the skull a little bit. And I tell people it's kind of like an egg inside of a shell. So what happens is as that gets shaken back and forth you can really disrupt the brains function,’” explained Stonerock.

According to Stonerock, the latest studies say, if an athlete stays in the game for just one extra play after suffering a concussion, it can double their recovery time. And while there are a number of products to help avoid concussions, such as mouth guards and helmets, there is nothing you can do to fully prevent one.

"The best thing to avoid concussions is really knowing where you are on the field, having great technique, so coaching comes into play a lot and really being able to diagnose a concussion quickly so you can remove that athlete from the field."

One preventative step being taken at Ishpeming High School is offering a pre-concussion test to all their student athletes. The baseline concussion screening is a preseason, computer exam that students complete to access the athlete's balance and brain function.

"That allows us to, should they have a head injury, we can better evaluate what their injury is and the extent of their injury,” said Sarah Engstrom, a Registered Nurse.

While there is no one single test to diagnose a concussion, the more students and coaches are aware of their seriousness, the better the chances of a fast recovery.