By Lori Brown
LIBERTY By any statistical standard, concussions in athletics are now an epidemic. And it’s particularly problematic at the scholastic level, where concussions account for almost 15 percent of all sports-related injuries according to national survey of high school trainers.
Against that backdrop and a newly instituted state law calling for better monitoring of concussion-like symptoms among scholastic athletes, the Liberty Booster Club sponsored an informational forum on the topic Monday night at the high school.
Dr. Nicholas Belasco, a sports medicine specialist from Bon Secours Medical Group in Goshen and Milford, Pa. led the discussion attended by many coaches, nurses and athletic directors of area schools, as well as concerned parents. The local schools represented were Liberty, Tri-Valley, Fallsburg, Sullivan West and Roscoe.
Belasco took the audience through recognizing the symptoms of concussions, treatment of concussions, starting a concussion management team for each school and proper protocol for allowing an athlete to resume playing after suffering a concussion.
He also talked about the second impact syndrome and how important it is to recover from the first concussion before getting back to sports.
“We are happy to sponsor this,” Liberty Booster Club President Mike Williams said. “It is very important come next year because of national legislation. All schools are to monitor concussions and are held accountable for concussions.”
Actually, New York State enacted a law in September requiring students who may have suffered a concussion in a school sport or gym class to be sidelined for at least 24 hours. The legislation will prevent students from returning to play until they have been without symptoms for at least one day and have been cleared by a physician. It also requires education and training for coaches, teachers and other school personnel on the symptoms and treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries.
Belasco, who is also the head physician on the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Concussion Management Committee began the discussion by defining a concussion, which is a type of traumatic brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion occurs when a blow to the head or body causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. Concussions can happen in any organized or unorganized sport or recreational activity, but there is a greater frequency in athletic environments where collisions are common.
He went on to say that most concussions occur without loss of consciousness and that if you have had a concussion in the past you have an increased risk for another one. He also noted that younger children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and have a longer recovery time than adults.
Belasco emphasized that for scholastic personnel, the first priority is recognizing the symptoms of a concussion, which according to CDC (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) include headache or “pressure” in the head, nausea or vomiting, balance problems or dizziness, double or blurry vision, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy, concentration or memory problems and confusion.
Also, the person just does not “feel right.”
The CDC reminds coaches, “it is better to miss one game than the whole season.”
Former Liberty cross country coach Ralph Bressler, who helped the Booster Club contact Dr. Belasco, ended the program by asking the audience, “Are you just a little bit scared?”
He challenged everyone in the audience not to wait to do something about this.
For more information about concussions visit, www.cdcgov/concussion.