Precautions developed due to concern over concussions

By Alex Miller

Concussions have become a rising injury issue in athletics as a whole, and at CSHS, the athletic training staff has taken new approaches to reduce the risk of receiving one as well as treatment after an athlete has been diagnosed with one.

“College Station ISD does baseline testing for athletes whether they are in cross country, tennis, gymnastics, football, soccer or any other sport,” head athletic trainer Chelsea Frashure said.

These baseline tests come at the beginning of the year.

“We have two pre-screeing tests that we use [at school],” assistant athletic trainer Sam Goodey said. “One is called the Impact Test that a lot of sports use to give them the baseline of their mental function and their cognition, so if they do get a concussion, we can compare the two tests. If something is abnormal, we can send them to a doctor.”

The football and soccer teams also take an extra test at the beginning of the year.

“With the football and soccer teams, we also have an impact test. The test is based off of the iPad’s that we have, and it has balance, visual acuity, and different modules that we use to test the cognition of different athletes,” Goodey said.

When an athlete experiences the symptoms of a concussion, they are first taken to a trainer to complete a few simple tests.

“When we suspect a concussion, we start by asking some questions like what [the athlete’s] food in-take for the day was, their hydration level, and was there actually an impact or is it an unknown cause,” Frashure said.

Different athletes have to take different measures after having a concussion as far as recovery. Sadly, it may end with an athlete having to stop playing a certain sport, like senior Payton Burson, who stopped playing football after having a concussion in a game during his sophomore year.

“It was during The Woodlands game, and I just made a normal tackle,” Burson said. “When I got up, though, my head was hurting and started buzzing, but I just didn’t even think about it.”

Burson went along throughout the weekend feeling fine, but the following week, he realized that it was more than just a hard hit.

“Monday and Tuesday in practice, it just got worse and worse,” Burson said. “Later on in the Tuesday practice, I just passed out. They had to take my helmet away, and I walked off the field. That was my last football practice ever.”

Burson then had to go through a long recovery process from his concussion. He had to stay home for two months and mainly stay in bed, not able to do much more than just eat and sleep for most of it.

“I couldn’t watch TV because it hurt my head. I couldn’t get on my phone because it hurt my head. Everything I did hurt my head, and I was bedridden,” Burson said. “I didn’t go to school and every time I got up, I was dizzy. It took me a long time to get over it.”

In some cases, like Burson, athletes have to stop playing a certain sport due to their concussion. For sophomore Amanda Jennings, however, she is able to continue playing basketball despite having three concussions herself, but with the help of protection.

“This year, my coach got me a black headband made by Unequal Technologies,” Jennings said. “So, if my head hits the ground or a person or a wall, [my head] won’t get hit as hard, and it softens the blow.”

According to Unequal Technologies, their products are made of a patent fiber worn by law enforcement officers and in the military that is woven into sheets and is five times stronger than steel. The goal of their products is to provide their users with unmatched strength and flexibility by maximizing shock suspension and dispersion.

“I have to wear [the headband] in games and every day in practice,” Jennings said.

Safety in equipment has become a rising issue in sports, and as time goes on, companies are developing their equipment to provide the athlete with maximum protection to help prevent injuries like concussions.

“[Companies] are looking into how equipment has affected concussions, but there is nothing that has 100 percent prevented concussions yet,” Frashure said. “There are all different things that say they help to reduce risk of concussions, they reduce impact, but research is being done every day to see where the newest technology in helmets and safety lie.”

After an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion by a doctor, they then take several steps in recovery, which are set up by the doctor and the training staff at the school.

“Part of our concussion protocol is that the doctor fills out a form saying what [the athlete] can do. Which is nothing to start with,” Frashure said. “On the same form, there is actually a portion of it that is for educational accommodations.”

A doctor can recommend that an athlete needs more or less light and noise, as well as other factors to accommodate them in their recovery in the classroom.

“[The athlete] comes in during their athletic period and depending on their symptoms, the either get to rest during the athletic period, or if they are doing okay, we treat it as a study hall, and they can work on their homework at their pace so they aren’t getting too far behind,” Frashure said.

Concussions may be un-preventable, but athletes can take certain steps on their own to help reduce the risk of further injury. Burson provides a small bit of advice for those who may have symptoms of a concussion.

“I should’ve just told my coaches that [my head] hurt,” Burson said. “Don’t try to tough it out. If your head hurts, tell somebody. I tried to tough it out and ended up making it ten times worse.”