Local Athletic Trainers and Medical Professionals Recognize Rising Concussion Rates

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According to a study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield, concussion diagnosis have increased 43% in the last five years. A large part of this spike can be attributed to the growing caliber of high school football.

The scariest part is that contact sports don’t require a head collision to create problems.

“You were to sustain a hit, you don’t have to technically hit your head because you can have the whiplash type effect, where the brain moves within the skull, kind of like Jello in an loose container,” Athens High School Athletic Trainer, Steve Hicks said.

In recent studies, coaches and doctors are analyzing factors that play a role in experiencing a concussion, such as play style, neck strength and equipment quality.

“With football, we are looking at the way you’re hitting, not leading with the head, trying to keep the shoulders brought up, and avoid the helmet to helmet contact,” Director of Sports Medicine at Guthrie Clinic, Don Phykitt said.

However, one common misconception is that newer and improved equipment can entirely prevent a concussion.

“While our equipment is getting better each year, none of the helmets out there have been shown to actually be concussion proof,” Phykitt said. “The only thing that we have found so far, with a lot of our helmets, is that they prevent skull fractures.”

In most baseline concussion tests, vision is a key element. Therefore, medical professionals utilize vision tests to decipher a patients symptoms after withstanding a concussion.

“And sometimes, the problems that we have with head injury comes from lack of function and coordination of the eyes after the injury,” Phykitt said. “So believe it or not, there is actually vision therapy that we do to kind of help with that.”

In some cases, those issues can linger. Therefore, Hicks founded the post concussion support group at Guthrie for athletes and their families to connect and help one another. If you would like to learn more about the group, contact twintiersspcsg@gmail.com.

As the football season continues, it’s important that athletes take proper precautions in order to avoid any long-term issues.

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