LARNED — After a series of football-related concussions in 2010, Larned High School had already committed to buying 16 new football helmets.
But thanks to a fundraising idea, 40 new helmets are expected to provide state-of-the-art protection for Larned High football players in 2011 through the Fort Larned Foundation for Education.
Pawnee Valley Medical Associates (PVMA) and Pawnee Valley Sport & Spine Physical Therapy will sponsor a fun run one-mile and 5-kilometer fundraiser June 4. The one-mile race will start at 9 a.m. with the 5K race starting at 9:30 a.m.
Under the direction of Dr. David Sanger, Pawnee Valley Sport & Spine staff provide sports medicine services for the LHS football team. Personnel attend home events and are a phone call away if they are needed because of a practice incident. Erin Geer serves as physical therapist and Luke Geer serves as a physical therapist and rehab manager working with outpatient and inpatient physical therapy.
“Concussions are very dangerous and we want to do whatever we can to prevent them,” said Luke Geer. “This fundraiser will help purchase new and updated equipment. We are very community-minded and we want to do what we can on this health promotion issue.”
Geer said football helmets must pass a safety inspection each year, but newer helmets simply provide better protection. Geer said there were nine reported incidents of concussions in 2010 at Larned High.
“The 12-year-old helmets get certified for use each year, but the technology has come far in the past decade,” Geer said. “The latest designs can help reduce the chance of concussions.”
The Riddell helmets, used in the NFL, cost $200 apiece, which would cost $8,000 if 40 helmets are purchased.
Geer conducts an annual safety meeting with Larned High coaches, including identifying what to look for in possible concussions.
“We conduct an educational presentation each year that describes what concussions are and what guidelines to follow for evaluation,” Geer said. “We want to make sure we are identifying concussions properly. We are always on-call and can be there in a few minutes.”
Geer said students also need to be educated about signs and symptoms of concussion so they are able to help protect their teammates.
“In football, when we talk about a player getting ‘his bell rung,’ that is considered a concussion,” Geer said. “It’s always staying alert and being aware if a player is not doing well after a play in a football game. We can always do a quick assessment of a situation and will get a player off the field if we need to.”
Geer said a normal evaluation would include determining the athlete’s level of orientation and questions to determine short-term memory and retention.
“You certainly can’t predict if a concussion will take place, as there are many factors and forces involved,” he said.
Geer sustained a concussion in 2000 in a vehicle accident.
“Having had a concussion makes head injuries something that I am certainly passionate about,” he said. “Concussions are traumatic brain injuries.”