New Nationwide Concussion Guidelines Could Change High School Sports

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY -- The American Academy of Neurology just posted new guidelines when dealing with concussions. You can see those new rules here on its website.

One of the guidelines said athletes should not go back into a game after having a concussion.

Broadway High School's athletic department already goes by these guidelines.

Whether it's football, soccer or any sport, taking a hit can be rough when a player suffers from a concussion.

Coach Ben Frenchak, the boy's soccer coach at the high school, said he sees it often.

"I mean it's definitely a difficult thing,” he said, “Anytime you see a head injury, your first thought is, 'How serious is it and is the player at risk?'"

Coach Frenchak said the player's health is his first concern. His next thought is what happens to the game?

"If it's a star player, that definitely hurts the team, but at the same point, and I think most coaches would say this, when one person goes down, it gives the rest of the team an opportunity to step up and fill the hole. Sometimes you get surprised and you see a player come up that you didn't know had that talent and had that gift."

Chuck Wenger, the Broadway High School athletic trainer, said in Rockingham County, there are about 20 to 30 concussions per year. When it comes to the new guidelines on keeping players on the bench, he said members of his department are already following them.

"Second impact syndrome is really the serious condition that is caused by the healing concussion that is not completely healed when a brain is subjected to another impacted force, causing a second concussion," said Wenger.

That condition can cause brain injury or even death if a student doesn't fully recover before playing again. That's why coaches know an athlete's health is more important than a win.

"Whether it's a head injury or someone hurts their ankle or knee, I mean that can take a player out for months at a time, and so I think it's important for us to realize that this is an injury and we have to treat it just like any other injury," said Coach Frenchak.

Coach Frenchak said athletes can no longer ignore an injury and immediately play in the game. Now with new research, he wants to make sure his players are healthy. He said he's glad Rockingham County Schools already follows the new guidelines for concussions.

Wegner said too much mental stress can worsen a concussion and he recommends even keeping players out of class until they fully heal. That way the athlete doesn't put too much strain on the injury.

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