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Concussion seminar to be held Tuesday at GBHS
Concussion seminar Tuesday. - photo by Tribune file photo

Dr. Brian Harvey of Salina Pediatric Care will be on hand Tuesday, August 11 to meet with local and area coaching and training staffs to conduct response training for concussions during athletic events. Tuesday’s seminar will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the GBHS auditorium.

“This is mandated by KSHSAA that all coaches including cheer and dance as well as all participants go through a concussion course,” said USD 428 athletics director David Meter.

According to KSHSAA’s website based on Kansas law, effective since July 1, 2011, any student participating in athletics or spirit MUST have on file with the school a Concussion and Head Injury Information Release form signed by both a parent/guardian and the student. This form must be on file before the student participates in their first practice of the school year.

A concussion management brochure published by the National Federation of State High School Associations states that the idea that a player has to lose consciousness or be “knocked out” to have a concussion is false. According to the brochure the vast majority of concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness with less then five percent of players losing consciousness with a concussion.

“We’re really not seeing any more concussions now than there were in the past,” said USD 428 athletic trainer Ryan Zink. “But now we are just seeing and hearing about them on a much more frequent basis.”

“This has been good and bad,” he continued.  “It’s good that people are more aware about concussions but the flip side is there is a lot of mixed information out there that people are misinterpreting. That’s made my job easier on the education side since most parents and students have at least heard of the negatives of concussions.”

Zink says communication with a player with a potential concussion is critical.

“Convincing students how important reporting a potential concussion used to be the hardest part at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Now with the media and news students typically inform me on even the smallest head ache.”

Early recognition and response is also important.

“A concussion results in minimal lost time when early and appropriate steps are taken,” said Zink. “But when a concussion is mishandled then other head injuries can follow. That is the biggest danger from head injuries we typically see in athletes. Nothing can or will stop a brain that was running ten miles an hour then abruptly stopping an slamming into the skull no matter how much padding or technology is available,” he said.

Two types of concussion recognition methods are used according to Zink. They include the King-Devlick and SCAT3 tests.

According to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary the King-Devlick Test is a tool for evaluation of eye movement when a concussion is suspected. The evaluation consists of a series of test card of numbers. KDT was originally developed as an indicator of eye movement as it realtes to reading ability.

Sport Concussion Assesment Tool (SCAT) is a standardized tool for evaluating injured athletes for concussion and can be used in athletes age 13 and older. states that the SCAT does not independently determine the diagnosis of a concussion nor does it independently determine the injured athlete’s recovery or return to play status. Such determination can only be made by a medical professional who has experience in the treatment of sport concussion.

“Both are good tests and help us to be able to recognize and have quantitative numbers to tell a parent on why they need to follow up with a doctor,” Zink said. “Parent education is a big part of the pre injury and post injury process. When I call a parent, I make sure to give them information on warning signs at home and to make that transition as easy as possible.”

 “Concussion awareness has increased so much over the past eight to ten years,” said GBHS head football coach Tony Crough. “It’s so vitally important for coaches and training staff to know what to look for so we will be better prepared to recognize concussion symptoms early.”

Crough said one advantage Great Bend has is having an athletic trainer on hand at all times.

“We’re extremely lucky to have such a fantastic trainer in Ryan,” said Crough. “If he even suspects a player has suffered a concussion he grabs them immediately and gets them off the field.”

The coach noted that proper training on recognizing, treating and preventing concussions is a collaborative effort between the training and coaching staffs.

“We’re all in this together,” said Crough “From all the coaches to the trainers, we are constantly being trained and prepared to know what to look for. We can’t play like we used to when players were just told to toughen up and work through it. The dangers and risks are just too great.”

“The head gear is so much better than it used to be,” Crough said. “Also, there are different approaches to things like tackle technique that we practice that is much different than what we were teaching kids ten or fifteen years ago.”

The risks of concussions are not limited to contact with an opposing player. A large number of concussions suffered by players are largely blamed on head-to-ground contact.

“It’s kind of a catch 22,” said Crough. “We now try to emphasize tackling down low rather than making upper body contact. The problem with lower body contact is that it creates a whip lash effect where the player being tackled is at greater risk having their head slammed into the turf. While there’s some give in player-to-player contact, the ground doesn’t have any give so there’s no equal distribution of impact shock. The head absorbs all the shock.”

The threat of sports-related concussions goes well beyond the grid iron.

“The  main thing that works against us in soccer is that we have no head protection,” said GBHS head soccer coach Gus Prieto. “Like football you run the risk of player-to-player collisions and also head collisions with the ground.”

“The biggest danger we face is with corner kicks because their is a massive scramble of players to get to the ball. It’s a risk at all levels of competition but as coaches we continue to avail ourselves to the latest training on how best to respond if and when a players gets hurt,” he said.

“Most people don’t believe concussions are something that occur on a volleyball court but it is surprising how many times you see this injury,” said Panther head volleyball coach Kelsey Perry.

Perry said most volleyball-related head injuries come from defensive reactions during competition.

“It’s most common with defense specialist and liberos,” said Perry. “They play in the back row so they are more apt to dive for balls which can lead to head injuries including concussions.”

According to signs coaches and trainers should look out for are the following:

—Player appears dazed or stunned (such as glassy eyes)
—Player is confused about assignment or position
—Player forgets instruction or play
—Is unsure of score or opponent
—Moves clumsily or exhibits poor balance
—Answers questions slowly
—Loses consciousness (even briefly)
—Shows mood, behavior or personality changes
—Cannot recall events prior to hit or fall
—Cannot recall events after hit or fall

Symptoms reported by a player include the following:

—Headache or “pressure” in head
—Nausea or vomiting
—Balance problems or dizziness
—Double or blurry vision
—Sensitivity to light or noise
—Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
—Concentration or memory problems
—Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down”

The CDC website states that in rare cases, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain of an athlete with a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull. Call 9-1-1 or take the athlete to the emergency department right away if after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body he or she exhibits one or more of the following danger signs:
—One pupil larger than the other
—Is drowsy or cannot be awakened
—A headache that gets worse
—Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
—Repeated vomiting or nausea
—Slurred speech
—Convulsions or seizures
—Cannot recognize people or places
—Becomes increasingly confused, restless, or agitated
—Has unusual behavior
—Loses consciousness (a brief loss of consciousness
should be taken seriously)

Tuesday’s seminar is free and open to the public.