Head Games: Second Impact Syndrome

By: Phil Jean Email
By: Phil Jean Email

Injuries are a way of life in football but you never want to show you're opponent that you've been hurt, but when high schoolers practice that code of silence, they could be only harming themselves.
You can see a concussion happen almost every Sunday in the NFL. The violent collisions leave fans and teammates breathless, but teenagers are more susceptible to immediate harm from such injuries because studies show their brain tissue is less developed than adults and more easily damaged.
Concussions can be tough to spot at the high school level so here's what trainers look for.
Debbie Tolsma, head athletic trainer Godby High School, says, "First and foremost I ask them what happened. I ask them if they feel okay, I ask them if they're dizzy, if they're nauseous, if there is any ringing in the ears. We check their memory."
But there are times when a player will "get his bell rung" and show symptoms later on in the week. This is a scary situation since it can lead to second impact syndrome.
Tolsma explains, "That is when you have a concussion which is basically a brain bruise and a second concussion occurs for whatever reason shortly thereafter which is a very serious injury."
Brad Miles, head athletic trainer at Valdosta High School, says, "They don't show immediately and it's not uncommon for as coaches call it for an athlete to get his bell rung and in that situation, the athlete may play 3 or 4 more plays but sooner or later the symptoms will show up enough and we'll get it caught."
Tolsma adds, "We take every precaution necessary in the sense that we don't allow the athlete to go back into play or practice while they still have a concussion."
Preventative measures and communication are keys to combating
concussion since helmets can do only so much to keep a players' brains from sloshing inside their skulls like the yolk inside an egg.


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