One in Five High School Football Players Get Concussions Each Season

7 years 6 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, November 23 2010 Nov 23, 2010 Tuesday, November 23, 2010 6:50:33 PM CST November 23, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri high school football season wraps up this Saturday.  According to the American Association of Neurosurgeon, every season twenty percent of high school football players get a concussion. Across the country, 10 states have some kind of concussion legislation, but Missouri is not on that list.

This means that individual schools must decide the best way to care for athletes with concussions, and that can leave a lot of room for discrepancy. 

"I think right now there's a large variation of how coaches, school districts and administrators approach this and some area schools are much more aware of the literature and are moving in the right direction,and other areas not so much," Thomas Martin, Director of Adult Neuropsychology at the University of Missouri and President of the Brain Injury Association of Missouri, said. 

Adam Fraizer played football for Hickman High School this season.  He got a concussion about halfway through the season. 

"I was on kickoff return and after the ball was kicked I was going to block and somebody hit me and then knocked me down. I felt kind of disoriented, but then I was fine.  I just had a slight headache," Fraizersaid. 

Although Fraizer initially thought he was fine, he got hit again later on in the game.  This time he experienced more serious symptoms of a concussion. 

"I blacked out for about three seconds," Fraizer said. 

A concussion happens when the brain bounces rapidly back and forth inside the skull.  This sudden movement causes stretching, cell damage and chemical changes.   

Most players do not lose consciousness during a concussion, so it can be hard to tell if a player has had one or not.   

Lyndsey Talbot, an athletic training student at CMU who works at Hickman, said she saw Fraizer get hit twice, so she approached him on the bench to make sure he was OK. 

"I just talked to him and noticed he was kind of dazed," Lyndsey Talbot, an athletic training student at CMU, said. 

At Hickman head trainer Stefanie West uses the Standardized Assessment of Concussion or SAC test to monitor her players' concussions. 

The test is compiled of different memory and orientation tasks. 

For example,the trainer reads off a list of numbers, and the player is supposed to repeat them in backwards order.  

Martin says there are more symptoms to a concussion than just vomiting, dizziness, headache, fatigue, and irritability.   

?Since the brain controls everything we do it?s not uncommon for someone to also have changes in their cognitive ability, speed of processing, their learning, their memory, and their attention,? Martin said. 

Fraizer said his symptoms are affecting his schoolwork. 
 
"I've had a head ache the whole time and when you have one it's kind of hard to sit there and focus on school and class"? Fraizer said. 

Once a player has one concussion, they're more likely to get another one. 

"One of the big things we don't want is called second impact. They go back out there with a concussion that's not healed and they have a neurological problem that?s a permanent kind of thing," West said. 

Although having to sit out of a game due to a concussion can seem like the end of the world to a player, Martin said it's important to keep everything in perspective. 

"When we're talking about out student athletes, the important thing to remember is that we do not want to put them at risk and we should not put them into play until their concussion has completely healed," Martinsaid.

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