Being Mindful of Concussions’ Repercussions

By Beacon Staff

Concussions are on a lot of sporting minds these days, and rightfully so.

There’s an emerging awareness of concussions and the repercussions in all sports, from youth athletics up to the professionals. New scientific studies have really brought this issue to light, but unfortunately so have recent tragedies.

I came across this article in the New York Times today about new research showing young women are at a greater risk of sustaining a concussion and are also more susceptible to its after effects.

The research found that younger athletes and those who are female show more symptoms and take longer to recover from a concussion than athletes who are male or older. More than 1.6 million Americans suffer a sports-related concussion every year, and a growing number occur among high school and college athletes.

According to federal statistics, more than 150,000 teenage athletes sustained concussions on the playing field from 2001 to 2005, though that figure accounts for only those who were taken to emergency rooms, so the true number, experts say, is likely to be much higher.

In Montana, high schools are being told to keep a close eye on possible concussed players. In 2010, the MHSA added new rules regarding the treatment of athletes suspected of suffering a concussion during competition. Essentially the new motto is, “When in doubt, sit them out.”

Missoula County Public Schools is implementing a standardized protocol for dealing with concussions, and highlighted the recent changes at a seminar titled “How to Deal With Concussion and Return to Play” on May 7, at the Big Sky High School auditorium.

Organizers said in a news release they hoped the seminar would help perpetuate concussion awareness and advocate the new protocol. Casey Fitzsimmons, a former N.A.I.A. All-American at Carroll College Athlete and seven-year player NFL veteran, shared his experiences with concussions at the seminar. A panel of health care professionals discussed the use of the protocol they employ in some scenarios, and answered questions from the audience.

This sounds like a great — and important — event. Hopefully more will follow.

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