Special to Reflector-Chronicle
The frequency of concussions occurring in youth sports has come under scrutiny in recent years, and most states have now passed concussion safety laws. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 3.8 million sports and recreational related concussions occur in the U.S. every year.
The sports medicine program at Abilene’s Memorial Health System (MHS) recommends that everyone take concussions seriously. Justin Clark, MHS Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine Athletic Trainer, says that in his work with high school athletes, he has seen concussions in volleyball, football, wrestling, and basketball. Since September 2011, the MHS Sports Medicine Program has performed 44 post-concussion screenings on area youth.
“You don’t have to be knocked unconscious to have a concussion, and symptoms differ with each person and each injury. If the athlete returns to play before completely healed, there is a much greater risk for long-term injury.”
Clark encourages parents of youth athletes to schedule a pre-season baseline concussion screening. The reason he feels this is important is because the data from the baseline screening can be compared to data taken after an injury which greatly helps during the assessment of the injury. Clark says that assessing a concussion is difficult.
“You can see a broken arm, but you can’t see a concussion. You also can’t see when a concussion is healed. That is why having objective data from a pre-injury baseline screening to compare to a post-injury screening is so valuable.”
The baseline screening offered by MHS Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine compiles data of the athlete’s brain function and postural stability. Health care professionals compare the pre-injury and post-injury data to make an objective and informed evaluation regarding the athlete’s recovery and readiness to return to play.
The baseline screening offered by MHS Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine is not covered by insurance, but is available for $25. Clark recommends that athletes undergo a pre-season baseline screening every two years. The screening takes about an hour and parents must sign a consent form.
For more information, contact MHS Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine at 785-263-6664.