Players, coaches and trainers must know concussion signs to prevent long-term effects
Jordan Rose is sidelined with a concussion and has to watch his teammates perform without him.
Oregon Tech athletic trainer Kelly Caleb wraps an athlete’s ankle. When it comes to injuries in sports, it’s important for athletes to be evaluated before returning to the field.
- Safety in infancy
With a frantic search for sports safety solutions under way, new rules have been made, such as more cautious helmet-to-helmet contact calls in football, and the requirement to pass physician-administered tests to return to play. But the reality is, athletic safety is very much in its infancy.
“There was no requirement that a student had to have a pre-participation medical examination 10 years ago,” OSAA executive director Tom Welter said, stressing how far safety has come, yet has to go. “We have learned more in the last four or five years about concussions than we knew previously. What we thought we knew five years ago isn’t necessarily accurate anymore.”
Now, players are no longer allowed back onto the field if they are “symptom free” of a concussion 15 minutes after being removed from the game. In addition to head injuries, heat illness has become more important as well. Schools in Oregon now register their heat index to determine how long practices should last.
“The number of deaths hasn’t changed in the last 30 years due to heat illness, but every doctor would tell you it’s 100 percent preventable,” Welter said.
However, most small schools can’t afford to provide a certified athletic trainer on game days.
“We have 82 schools with 105 students or less in the high school out of 292 total schools in OSAA,” Welter said. “There may not even be a doctor in town. To (require) a certified athletic trainer on the sidelines is impossible to do.”
And it’s not likely to ever happen, said chair of the OSAA medicine advisory committee Dr. Michael Koester.
“In the ideal situation it would be awesome to have (trainers at every contest),” Koester said. “The most likely scenario would be a majority of all the big schools, 4A and up, and creative ways of financing athletic trainers who would not just be at one school, but maybe cover four or five schools.”
— Brett A. Sommers
Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013 12:00 am
Sunday, January 13, 2013 12:00 am.