Concussion awareness at all-time high in athletics - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Ahwatukee 2013 Medical

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Concussion awareness at all-time high in athletics

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Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013 12:45 am

Brandyn Leonard got to the point where he didn’t even want to go to practice anymore.

He couldn’t participate and watching his Mountain Pointe teammates got to be too hard. While he knew the spot on the sidelines was exactly where he needed to be, it didn’t make it any easier.

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The after effects of a concussion are not easy to deal with, but not being able to take the field with your team might be even worse.

“I was down on football,” the Mountain Pointe junior running back said. “I was kind of losing my interest. Just going to practice and not playing was hard. I didn’t like it.”

The NFL’s new found priority on head injuries has had a trickle-down effect on all levels of sport.

“There are so many tools at our disposal,” Desert Vista athletic trainer Ryan Molnar said. “It’s always been a priority, but now when there is any inkling that there is a head injury there is no leeway. We have protocols in place and the proper steps are taken.”

Mountain Pointe was of the first schools to start ImPACT baseline testing and now the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) has made it a priority for all schools.

ImPACT’s test is computerized and takes about 25 minutes to complete. ImPACT recommends that it be administered by an ImPACT-trained athletic trainer, school nurse, athletic director, team doctor or psychologist. Baseline tests are suggested every two years. If a concussion is suspected, the baseline report will serve as a comparison to a repeat ImPACT test, which professionals can use to assess potential changes or damage caused by a concussion.

“It’s not the end-all and be-all, but it is gives us another tool,” Mountain Pointe athletic trainer Jess Pierce said. “It can be frustrating because kids don’t like taking tests in the first place, but it has helped us in several instances.”

AIA associate executive director Chuck Schmidt cited the new by-law, passed last March by the AIA’s Legislative Council. That by-law is now in effect. It allows only half of the practice time in preseason to be contact work and limits contact work in the regular season to one-third of the practice time. Contact work, as defined in by-law 23.2.7 is “padded athletes in contact with each other.”

It’s a problem of epidemic proportions. Kids suffering hundreds and thousands of concussions every year.

There are about 400,000 concussions each and every year, and that’s just high school sports.

With numbers like that, it’s no wonder parents, schools and doctors are focusing on the issue.

Experts say you can’t prevent a concussion, but you can prevent the chances of them through education, like coaches teaching proper tackling.

One-third of concussions in football happen during practice. Therefore, there are new rules out to protect high school players.

The by-law specifies that no more than half of practice time can be contact practice in the preseason and no more than one-third of practice time can be contact practice during the regular season.

Then it can only be a good thing going forward.

“There has been a definite increase in knowledge and awareness compared to four or five years ago,” Pierce said. “While concussions are one of the hardest things to diagnosis we feel we have a much better handle on it than before to find the signs of head trauma.”

ABC 15 contributed to this story.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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