Concussions in High School Sports
When stepping between the lines during a sporting event, athletes of all ages risk injury for the sake of enjoyment. Annually, 6.9 million high school athletes are at risk of serious brain damage while competing in athletics (Comstock). Even though many athletes go through high school athletics without ever suffering a concussion, the statistics are staggering. Of the 4,431 injuries reported in 2005-2006 season, 396 or 8.9% of those injuries were concussions (Comstock). To ensure the safety of the players, all high schools in the United States should be required to have an athletic trainer present at all athletic contests and require a series of concussion tests if the athlete is suspected to have sustained a concussion. To fully ensure the safety of an athlete, proper concussion tests are vital for identifying, treating, and preventing future concussions. In the past, before athletic trainers or concussion tests, coaches would simply ask the athlete if they felt alright and if the athlete said they felt fine the coach would put him or her back into the game. When conducting a concussion test athletic trainers have three different tests they can conduct; the Standard Assessment of Concussions, The Immediate Post concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test, and the baseline concussion test. In the past decade concussion awareness has become more prevalent due to the fact that research has shown concussions can happen in any sport from soccer, to basketball, to softball, and even cheerleading. It used to be believed that concussions only happened to males who played football, but statistics show otherwise. In the 2005-2006 school year, nationwide, 8.9% of high school athletes were diagnosed with a concussion (Comstock). Of that 8.9%, 40% of concussions occurred in the sport of football (Comstock). That means 60% of concussions that occur during high school sports will go undiagnosed if athletic trainers are only present at football games. By not having an athletic trainer present at other sporting events, athletes are at risk of permanent brain damage that can occur when an athlete continues to participate in practice or games when they have suffered a concussion. The sport with the second most concussion injuries during the 2005-2006 school year was girls’ soccer. Girls’ soccer accounted for 21.5% of all concussion injuries during the 2005-2006 school year (Comstock). Boys’ soccer accounted for 15.4% of concussions injuries followed by girls’ basketball at 9.5% (Comstock). With new advances in baseline and sideline concussions testing is now simple, easy, fast, and affective. Baseline and sideline tests do not have to be administered by a neurological professional or even a physician. These new pen and paper tests can be administered by athletic trainers, student intern trainers, or even coaches. For an athlete to be accurately diagnosed and treated for a concussion a baseline test must first be administered to each athlete before the season starts, with sideline, and post-concussion testing following the injury (McKeever and Schatz 7). Baseline assessments are needed as a control so the athletic trainer knows how each athlete preforms without a concussion. The information the athletic trainer attains from baseline tests is vital in determining “whether an impairment seen on post-concussion cognitive testing is due to the effects of a recent concussion compared to an individual’s relative weakness in that cognitive domain” (Mckeever and Schatz 7). Without conducting a baseline concussion test athletic trainers would be unable to accurately diagnose a player with a concussion because the athletic trainer would not know the strength of that athletes’ cognitive ability. Materials that are needed for the baseline concussion assessment are minimal. The assessment form itself can be printed off from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and can be administered by any...
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