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By MARCO BOSCOLO
PBL athletic trainer
A concussion is an injury to the brain that alters the way the brain functions. According to the Mayo Clinic, the “effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination.” In rare cases. it can cause death.
I bet you know of someone who has had a concussion or you’ve heard about concussions in the media. It is estimated that there are over 3.8 million sport-related concussions a year, with a majority occurring in younger populations. Concussions affect all of us at some level.
I’ve been working in Illinois eight years as an athletic trainer; athletic trainers work with doctors to manage sport injuries. During this time I’ve taught athletic training at the University of Illinois and worked with high school teams.
Before this time, I’ve worked at the college and Olympic levels in California and Colorado. I’ve seen how concussion care has been managed at each level and the progress sports medicine has made in concussion care.
During my time in Illinois I saw a need for better concussion care. I thought more could be done to ensure each athlete with a concussion receives proper concussion care.
I researched, and could not find, any resources for high schools on how to manage concussions. Therefore, in 2011, I created the Illinois Sports Concussion Network to promote and provide resources for good concussion management in Illinois.
The Illinois Sports Concussion Network is found at the www.ConcussionHub.com and provides concussion resources for families, schools, medical personnel and coaches.
The best treatment is rest. After a concussion it is best to refrain from TV, texting, driving, school work and socializing.
Gradual return to these activities is OK while the athlete is recovering. Most athletes will recover within a few weeks after they are diagnosed with a concussion. Some athletes will take longer to recover.
After a concussion, the athlete should gradually return to academics. After all of their symptoms have resolved they can start a six-step return to play process.
Each step takes 24 hours and involves gradually more demanding physical tasks.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics comprehensive school based concussion “management is essential for reducing the risk of long-term symptoms and complications.”
Ideally. a concussion management plan would ensure each athlete receives concussion education and is evaluated and treated appropriately when they receive a concussion. The best way to do is for the school to adopt a system which incorporates the family, teachers, administrators, staff, school counselor, coaches and medical team to help coordinate the athlete’s care following a concussion.
The Illinois Sports Concussion Network, at the ConcussionHub.com website, seeks to promote concussion care beyond just treatment to care that has a sound management plan incorporated in the school community.
The ConcussionHub.com website has simple concussion information for parents, athlete, coaches and school administrators. There is a great section in the website on concussion care and school policy development.
For parents, there is a great section on what questions you should ask the doctor or athletic trainer during a concussion evaluation.
The Concussion Hub website is growing. You can help it grow by visiting the site and exploring its resources.
Marco Boscolo is a certified athletic trainer at Gibson Area Hospital’s Therapy Services and Sports Medicine Clinic in Paxton. The hospital’s sports medicine program outreaches to five regional high schools and provides free injury screens, and Elite Performance Training.