Doctors suggest new protocol for sports concussions

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Adam Moesel played soccer his first few years of high school. His athletic trainer said he was always an aggressive player on the field who loved to compete. 

But now, approaching his senior year, Moesel isn't sure he will ever be able to play his favorite sport again. 

Moesel sustained three concussions the past six months and is still suffering from the side effects every day. 

"So my first concussion wasn't very fun. I sustained two hits in a short period of time to my jawbone, temple area and at first I didn't feel anything unusual but I got evaluated on the sideline quite immediately after," Moesel said."They diagnosed me with a mild concussion." 

But that was only the beginning. A few months after his first concussion, Moesel was back to playing soccer and while performing a "header," a skill regularly practiced in soccer, he got another concussion. This time he was even wearing protective concussion headgear. 

Then as he was taking it easy and still recovering, he accidentally hit his head at home on the refrigerator. That was Moesel's most recent concussion. He said this one made him the most upset. 

"A big reason about why I felt depressed was associated with me playing in soccer because I realized that I wouldn't be able to play anymore," Moesel said.

He said, "I wouldn't be able to be that dream team captain and be able to help my team."

Moesel said his first recovery time was filled with a lot of doctors appointments. He missed around 40 days of school his first semester. 

"I felt a lot of frustration just based around the fact that I couldn't cognitively perform to the same level." 

Moesel said the symptoms still persist to this day. 

"The main symptom that I had was head pressure throughout the entire time and loss of concentration and loss of memory," Moesel said. "That's what started manifesting itself after I got my third one and then I started developing vertigo and dizziness which were pretty bad." 
Still, Moesel continues to have a good attitude about the situation. 

"I realized that I had a new calling and instead of being a player on the field that maybe I could be more of a coach on the sideline and maybe that's what I was made to do instead."

The executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Missouri, Maureen Cunningham, has been hosting seminars discussing sports concussions for the past few years. Coaches, trainers, parents, and students attend to increase their knowledge of concussions and the ways to prevent or treat them.

This year's seminar took place Thursday and was about "return to learn protocols."

"With student athletes, they are students first and they need to return to classes and other activities without prolonging symptoms of their concussion," Cunningham said.

Dr. Mark Halstead said new research has led him to believe the key to concussion recovery for children is getting them back into school quickly. 

"There's a lot of focus on getting there kids back on the athletic field, but we also forget that they're student athletes and we have to be able to get that back into the school setting." 

Halstead said keeping children home could slow down progress. 

"The longer period of time out of school can actually be harmful to their recovery rather than helpful," he said.

Halstead said children benefit from being back in a normal setting. 

He said being back in school is better than sitting at home all day, which "isn't very productive for concussion recovery."