Concussions: Testing, care and prevention


The Mirror reporter 

High school athletes are constantly faced with the possibility of obtaining injury, none more prevalent than the chance of getting a concussion. The question is, does our school district take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent, and care for athletes with concussions?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury which interferes with normal brain function. This occurs when a blow to the head or the body is sustained.

Linda Haller, the SPASH athletic trainer explained the procedures that are taken at SPASH when a concussion occurs and how to prevent them.

She said, “Before every sports season begins a head injury and concussion form is distributed to each player and is to be looked over, signed, and returned to the coach before the athlete can play or practice,” Haller said.

“SPASH also has an Emergency Action Plan for every sport in the case of a player sustaining a head injury. Each plan is different for each sport and a plan has also been developed for general school head injuries, not just for athletics.”

“Before every sports season begins, a test called the ImPACT is taken by each athlete to get a baseline for their cognitive function, including processing information,” Haller explained. “This gives us something to compare the function of the possibly concussed brain to one of the normal, healthy brain before the player sustained the head injury. If the baseline comes back with an extreme drop in function, steps are taken to help the player get back on track and on the road to recovery. Accommodations will be made for the athlete in the classroom to allow them to heal, and focus on school, rather than sports.”

Regarding the use of helmets in contact sports, Haller stated, “Helmet use is not always the best option for all sports. In football, helmet use, and the proper use of them, can play a huge factor in preventing a head injury from occurring, whereas in a sport like soccer, a helmet would offer little to no advantage as the use of your head in the game is vital at times. A helmet would only impede the function of using one’s head to deflect the ball.”

Using a helmet may be beneficial in some sports, but in other sports, the helmet could become more of a hindrance than a help, but would most definitely decrease the chance of getting a concussion. Our district takes steps to prevent head injuries and steps to care for athletes with concussions. That is more than enough to please the WIAA and ensure the safety of our athletes.

Photo taken from ImPACT website