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An NBC 5 investigation discovered how many student athletes have had concussions in North Texas, even though the state organization that governs Texas school sports isn’t keeping a complete count.
The NFL now counts concussions each time they happen, looking for ways to prevent them in the future. But The University Interscholastic League, which oversees extracurricular academic, athletic and music activities in Texas public schools, does not track concussions at all schools for all sports.Investigative Northwest HS Replaces 100 1-Star Football Helmets
NBC 5 Investigates found the UIL only collects concussion reports from a sample of high school football teams statewide.
In 2014 the UIL reported 295 football concussions from 263 schools that were sampled. But NBC 5 Investigates learned that in that same year there were a greater number of concussions reported by high school football players in just the DFW Metroplex compared to the UIL’s state sample.
This summer, NBC 5 Investigates requested concussion records, broken down by sport, from 41 DFW area school districts. The records reveal just how often concussions are happening, not just in boys sports, but girls as well.
NBC 5 Investigates found more than 2,500 concussions in one school year in all sports combined at high schools and middle schools in those 41 North Texas districts.Investigative NBC 5 Investigation Prompts Helmet Changes at FWISD
Records added up across area districts show 223 concussions were reported in boy’s high school soccer and 145 concussions in boy’s high school basketball with another 183 in girl’s high school soccer, 121 in girls softball and 62 concussions in cheerleading.
When asked if he was concerned about the state’s sample not showing the full picture of the severity of the problem, UIL Assistant Director Jamey Harrison said the UIL is “worried that we need to do more in the area of data collection. But that doesn't mean we have found a solution yet.”Parents Push for New Football Helmets in Schools
Harrison said UIL currently uses national data to examine the issue, and added that the league has already developed a strict protocol that governs when players can return to play after a concussion.
Senica Cruz was sidelined from playing soccer after she suffered two hits to the head in a week. The second hit forced her to sit out after she was diagnosed with a concussion.Investigative Investigation Prompts Helmet Changes at Local School
The first hit was captured on video that showed Cruz colliding with another player going to head butt the ball in a club game.
Afterward, Cruz said she suffered from persistent, unrelenting headaches that were there when she went to sleep and were there when she woke the next morning.Local Coaches Train in Safety Ahead of Football Season
“It’s a brain injury,” said Ken Locker, with Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine in Fort Worth.
Research shows kids’ brains take longer to heal than adults.
“It’s not a dinger or a bell ringer or a concussion, it’s a mild, traumatic brain injury. That’s why it’s serious,” said Locker.
Experts said if you want to prevent concussions in sports it helps to start counting how often they happen. The NFL did that, by pinpointing places in the game where concussions happen most. Then they made rule changes like moving the ball forward just five yards on kick-off to cut the number of high speed collisions on kick returns.
Data shows concussions in games have come down 36 percent over three years.
UT Southwestern Dr. Hunt Batjer, co-chair of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, said he would like to help the UIL begin collecting data from all high school sports for both boys and girls.
Batjer added that collecting data from all teams can help a league see if one team has more problems than others, such as issues with equipment or coaching techniques that might cause more concussions. That would then allow officials who oversee the sport to make changes that can better protect players.
“Rules matter. Policies matter,” said Batjer.
But the UIL doesn’t collect data from all sports or even all schools.
Harrison said the UIL is working with legal counsel and members of the medical community to determine how to best create a system that tracks numbers from all sports and schools.
“Whether or not that's our program that we conduct or whether that's someone else conducting it and partnering with them I don't have the answer yet. That's an ongoing conversation”, Harrison said.
In our research, NBC 5 Investigates learned that many school districts already keep their own concussion statistics for all sports, such as the Denton Independent School District which looks at the numbers with its own team of doctors.
“If [the] UIL or anybody needs it in the future, we have it,” said Joey Florence, Denton ISD athletic director. “I love football and I understand the value of athletics for our kids. But we also have an obligation to make sure we are looking after their safety too.”
NBC 5 Investigates found some states are already collecting more statewide data. In Massachusetts, for example, all schools are required to report concussions for all sports to the state health department.
We’ve posted concussion statistics for some North Texas school districts below and we’ll keep following this story to see if the state makes changes.
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Concussions are an everyday occurrence in a wide range of sports. Many of my patients are sports enthusiasts and it is not uncommon to hear that they have had one or multiple concussions over their lifetimes.
You might have heard about or seen the movie Concussion, where accomplished pathologist, Dr. Bennett Omalu, uncovers the truth about brain damage among Pittsburgh Steelers and other football players who had suffered from repeated head trauma. The truth is, a concussion head injury isn’t limited to professional athletes.
You can get a concussion from falling off of your mountain bike, playing a pick-up game of basketball, having a softball game collision, heading a soccer ball, or just about any other kind of sports activity.Facts About Concussions
According to the Marin Neuropsychology Center, over 2.5 million athletes sustain a concussion annually, which is considered a mild Traumatic Brain Injury and can lead to ongoing symptoms.
Tim Galli, Athletic Director of San Rafael High School, is participating in a pilot program as the first school in the San Francisco Bay Area to test concussion monitoring technology in real-time.
He says, “About 18 months ago, we started doing two things to protect our student athletes and reduce concussions. First, we did a neurological baseline assessment for all athletes, including the King Devick test to establish a baseline so we can see if there is any difference after an incidence.”
“Second, last spring, we began equipping our varsity and JV women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse teams with wearable impact monitoring equipment to alert us of any impact above a certain force level. Now our football team is wearing this equipment, too.”High School Football Team Wearing Concussion Sensors
“These sensors fit in a headband, a skullcap or a helmet on the back of the athlete’s head and they track the amount of force when an impact occurs. The players are alerted immediately when a certain force occurs and pulled off the field for further tests,” Galli explained to me.
“As the sensors have evolved, they give our coaches more information, including the impact point for each athlete. For example, in football practice, if we’re seeing a high number of high impact strikes that can cause a concussion, we need to adjust an athlete’s technique. Any time that we can reduce risk, we’re at an advantage.”
The King Devick Test
I really praise San Rafael High School for its efforts. I’m pleased to hear that they have administered the King Devick mental function test to all of their athletes, which can be administered by athletic trainers, parents, coaches and medical professionals minutes after a concussion is suspected.Preventative Measures to Reduce Concussions
Another preventative measure I recommend to athletic organizations is having their athletes take two supplements: undenatured whey protein and N-Acetyl Cysteine, (NAC). These supplements boost the production of Glutathione, which is a very powerful anti-oxidant produced by the body. Not only does it help the players avoid getting sick, it’s also critical in the control of inflammation which is a major cause of ongoing and worsening symptoms post-concussion.Chiropractic Treatment for Concussions
If there is a concussion, treatment goals would be to provide the following:
Inflammation would be addressed with more supplementation. All of these goals would be addressed with spinal and cranial adjusting, which would take pressure off of stressed nerves, increase the flow of fluid around the brain to clear out toxic buildup, and give brain cells the nutrition they need to heal.Recommendations About Concussions
If you think you’ve sustained a concussion, stop participating in the sport that caused it and call your physician. If you’d like to make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with me, I’d welcome the opportunity to listen to what caused your concussion, explain preventative options, and share how chiropractic treatment can help if you do suffer a sports related concussion.
880 Las Gallinas Ave. Ste. 6
San Rafael, CA 94903
The chiropractic office of Dr. Jonathan Smith of Balance Chiropractic in San Rafael, Marin County, 94903 , specializes in gentle, effective chiropractic methods that bring your body to its highest level of health creating infinite possibilities.
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Support the newsPoll: Support For High School Football, Despite Concussion Risks
Making sure that children are active often means getting them interested in sports. But parents have to weigh the health risks of those sports, including hits that can cause concussions.
Concussions are brain injuries. Most people, including kids, recover from a concussion. But concussions, particularly repeated ones, can lead to serious, lasting health problems.
What do Americans know about the risk of sports concussions for kids? And how do people feel about the risks? We asked, with an emphasis on high school football, in the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll.
(NPR-Truven Health Analytics)
Doctors and public health officials have been working to raise awareness of the issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put together training for coaches of youth sports to help them prevent, recognize and deal with concussions.
First off, most people know that playing high school football carries risks for health problems from concussions. Only 10 percent of poll respondents said they weren't aware of that possibility.
On the other hand, just 7 percent said the risks are too great to continue offering football as a high school sport. The largest group of respondents — 44 percent of those surveyed — said equipment and safety need to be improved. A slightly smaller proportion — 39 percent — said that accidents and injuries are a part of sports and that those problems don't affect their view of football as a high school sport.
Overall, the findings suggest that there has been substantial progress in raising awareness about concussion risks, says Gerald Gioia, a neuropsychologist at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C. "Awareness is but the first step," he tells Shots. "We need to translate that now into how we improve upon the safety, the actual on-field, on-court and on-ice kinds of safety activities."
The poll also asked about kids playing specific sports. Almost all the respondents would allow a child in middle or high school to play basketball or soccer. Three-quarters were fine with football. Two-thirds said hockey would be OK.
A 2011 CDC study found that bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer accounted for the most ER visits involving nonfatal brain injuries, including concussions.
"Parents are very, very interested in their kids being active in sports," says Gioia, who works with the CDC and is also the director of the Safe Concussion Outcome Recovery and Education program at Children's National. "We have to make sure that all sports that kids are involved in are understood in terms of the risks — that we are educating and preparing the coaches and the parents and the kids around those risks."
One important question for parents to ask their kids' coaches is whether there is an active educational program about concussions for coaches, Gioia said.
While equipment can help reduce risks, Gioia says proper coaching and rules that "take the head out of the game" are likely be more protective. "How we teach kids will probably have the greatest effect," he says.
Now what about football as a spectator sport? We asked if people had changed their viewing habits because of the long-term risks associated with concussions. Only 5 percent of people said they watch less football because of the health issue. Almost three-quarters said their viewing habits hadn't changed. About 5 percent said they actually watch more football, and 17 percent said they never watch football.
Finally, we wondered how many people had suffered a concussion at some point in their lives. About 30 percent of people said they had, while 70 percent said they hadn't.
"A substantial proportion of our population has experienced these injuries," Gioia says. The poll suggests that concussion safety is an issue with relevance for many people, he says, and that may help.
The national poll drew responses from 3,006 participants interviewed by telephone during the first half of November 2013. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. You can find the full set of questions and responses here.
With school and fall sports already underway, it’s a good time to share some facts about concussions. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a fall or a blow to the head. One can also sustain concussion if the body is hit or jolted in such a way that the head and brain move rapidly back and forth. This abrupt movement can bring about chemical changes in the brain and damage to its cells.
Most people think of concussions as mild injuries, but the after effects can be scary. With rest, most people who suffer concussion fully recover in just a few hours. Others could take weeks. Repeated concussions or a severe concussion may require surgery or lead to long-lasting problems with movement, learning, or speech. Concussions have also at times, led to death.
The most startling fact about concussions, is that there may be no visible signs of injury. Or signs and symptoms may not present for days or even weeks after the injury. If symptoms do show, a visit to a health care professional is imperative.Here are some scary concussion statistics:
May of 2009, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire signed the Lystedt Law, which was the country’s first and for a long time the toughest “youth athlete return to play” law. The name comes from a young athlete sent back onto the football field after a suspected concussion. Thirteen year old Zackery Lystedt suffered Second Impact Syndrome, which resulted in severe brain swelling. He collapsed on the field and was airlifted to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. Sadly, that second blow left him with a disabling brain injury that nearly cost his life.
The National Football League called Washington’s new law “model legislation.” It states that a youth athlete suspected of receiving a concussion is required to get medical clearance before returning to play. The law was the first of its kind and since its passage every state in the U.S. has sanctioned concussion laws. Approximately half the state’s laws require coaches to undergo regular concussion-recognition training. A few states also broaden this requirement to school nurses, athletic trainers, volunteers, and any officials involved in interscholastic sports.
All youth sports organizations and schools are also required to inform the athletes and parents of the risks of concussion. Many of them distribute concussion awareness information that must be read and signed by both the athlete and the parent before the child is allowed to participate in sports.Coaches should look for these warning signs from their athlete. If they don’t present themselves during the game, parents should be watching at home:
Parents should also be aware of any sleeping problems. If their child cannot fall asleep, stay asleep or is sleeping too much, that might be a sign of concussion.
The State of Washington pioneered legislation to improve safety for all young athletes, but emphasis on TBI prevention already existed in football. From middle school to pro, football leagues had new rules prohibiting helmet-to-helmet contact with the aim of preventing head injuries.
Injury free sports is not a probable reality. Nonetheless, we now have more information and a better understanding of brain injuries, every state in the U.S. has adopted some kind of concussion legislation, and advancements in athletic gear continues to evolve with sports. This precautionary trifecta should help reduce risks of concussion and allow healthy competition without fear of serious injuries.
To watch video about Zackery Lystedt’s injury watch the ESPN video.
To see a video of his improvement since his injury, click here.
It’s so important to keep on top of statistics like these. Concussions are no joke, and the more we know and understand about them the better we can help those with it.Leave a Reply Cancel reply
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