Law sets guidelines for sports-related concussions

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Sophomore goalie Rebecca Ewel felt somewhat dazed after being kicked in the temple, but she decided to stay in her club soccer game. Later that day, Ewel began to feel very dizzy and nauseous. Little did she know, she had just suffered a concussion.
“A concussion can potentially be very lethal,” said Tony Strickland, CEO of the Sports Concussion Institute. “Athletes, unlike other individuals who sustain injuries, do not typically report their symptoms or significantly minimize their symptoms, putting them at enhanced risk.”
According to Strickland, a concussion is a blow to the head, neck or body that transfers energy to the brain and alters the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. 
Around 3.8 million athletes suffer concussions each year that vary in severity. Symptoms range from experiencing minor confusion to possible long-term impacts such as memory loss and death.

“Brains are more susceptible at a younger age,” said Dr. Kevin Crutchfield, director of the Compressive Sports Concussion Program at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain and Spine Institute at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. “High school athletes have more at risk because the brains are leakier and [when they have suffered a concussion] the brain can swell within the skull.”

Benefits of ConTACT

Although concussions are not uncommon among athletes, publicity of this issue from the NFL has trickled down to both the collegiate and high school level.
“It has always been a problem,” Crutchfield said. “As many football players negotiate major contracts, they have made their health a big part of the issue. Everyone is benefitting from the knowledge and it is forcing the League to notice that concussions are a problem.”
That political jockeying by the NFL and other athletic associations has sparked interest among many political activists which led to the creation of the Concussions Treatment and Care Tools Act (ConTACT) Act in the U.S. legislature.
According to a Sept. 30 Washington Post article, the ConTACT Act will establish guidelines on how to prevent, identify and treat concussions. It will also include instructions on how soon a student-athlete can return to play after suffering a concussion.
“The Act will affect everyone,” Crutchfield said. “Coaches are the worst people to decide whether their star player should play after concussions, and this Act gives more power to health care professionals because the coaches are forced to listen to them.”
According to former football coach and current softball coach James Collins, a player would get their “bell rung,” and go straight back into the game.
Having their “bell rung,” meant the player suffered a less severe concussion, but many athletes did not realize that they were still at risk every minute they stayed in the game. The ConTACT Act will make that illegal.
“The ConTACT Act will help both the coaches and the team,” Crutchfield said. “When someone has had a concussion the brain is not working, and that is not helping the team at all. It will alter brain function, therefore altering the performance of the athlete.”

MCPS and Concussions
MCPS launched multiple initiatives to reduce the number of concussions among students, including guidelines to follow before and after a concussion, and rules for players to follow before they get back into the game.
 According to athletic director David Kelley, CHS is fortunate to not have had a death from a concussion on the field, but because of the initiatives and concussion awareness, the school has been able to prevent many concussions.
According to girls soccer coach Haroot Hakopian, there was no concussion prevention 18 years ago, yet luckily he has only had 10 players experience diagnosed concussions over his career as a coach.
With the help of Crutchfield and the Impact test, CHS has been able to notice concussions and handle them in a professional manner. CHS is one of the three schools in MCPS to use this baseline concussion test.
“The Impact test will look at the athlete and will examine his or her memory and examine his or her concentration and related functions that are susceptible to a concussion,” Strickland said. “It looks at health history, so when a suspected concussion occurs, the information is already available to be compared to information prior to the concussion.” 
CHS junior and running back Curtis Kamara, who took the Impact test prior to the start of the football season, sustained a concussion during the Oct.22  Sherwood  HS game.
Kamara blacked out and was unable to remember both the hit and if he had played following the hit. He was then taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a post concussion. 
Kamara did not play after the hit and followed the Zurich Concussion Latter outline which specifies that a player is to be removed from play immediately and not returned to play in the current game.  Also, that player is to refrain from all physical exertion.  Kamara was later retested with the Impact test, and was approved to play in the following game a week later.
“The school did a good job with handling the concussion,” Kamara said.

Though CHS has prevented and increased concussion awareness, more can be done. As scientists continue to learn more regarding concussions, the school will continue to increase awareness and take measures to prevent future concussions.
“People have been getting concussions forever,” Kelley said. “We are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of post concussions. It is severely impacting what we know and is causing things to change.”

According to athletic director David Kelley, CHS is fortunate to not have had a death from a concussion on the field, but because of the initiatives and concussion awareness, the school has been able to prevent many concussions.
According to girls soccer coach Haroot Hakopian, there was no concussion prevention 18 years ago, yet luckily he has only had 10 players experience diagnosed concussions over his career as a coach.
With the help of Crutchfield and the Impact test, CHS has been able to notice concussions and handle them in a professional manner. CHS is one of the three schools in MCPS to use this baseline concussion test.
“The Impact test will look at the athlete and will examine his or her memory and examine his or her concentration and related functions that are susceptible to a concussion,” Strickland said. “It looks at health history, so when a suspected concussion occurs, the information is already available to be compared to information prior to the concussion.” 
CHS junior and running back Curtis Kamara, who took the Impact test prior to the start of the football season, sustained a concussion during the Oct.22  Sherwood  HS game.
Kamara blacked out and was unable to remember both the hit and if he had played following the hit. He was then taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a post concussion. 
Kamara did not play after the hit and followed the Zurich Concussion Latter outline which specifies that a player is to be removed from play immediately and not returned to play in the current game.  Also, that player is to refrain from all physical exertion.  Kamara was later retested with the Impact test, and was approved to play in the following game a week later.
“The school did a good job with handling the concussion,” Kamara said.
Though CHS has prevented and increased concussion awareness, more can be done. As scientists continue to learn more regarding concussions, the school will continue to increase awareness and take measures to prevent future concussions.
“People have been getting concussions forever,” Kelley said. “We are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of post concussions. It is severely impacting what we know and is causing things to change.”