Special Segment: Athlete injuries

August 19, 2009 11:49:47 AM PDT
When an athlete gets a major sports injury, such as a broken arm, it's easy to tell that something is wrong. But some of the most common and dangerous problems are tough to detect. And that has some coaches and trainers changing their game plan for handling injured athletes.During the final home game of last season, Hinsdale High School corner Brian Connor took a hard hit.

"I went down, and the top of my head hit the top of his head," said Connor.

Connor stayed in the game until other players told the coach something was wrong. After checking him out, the trainers said he had a concussion.

"It got scary in the morning when I watched the tape and I realized I didn't remember these plays," said Connors.

Hinsdale Central's head athletic trainer, Ted Hirschfeld, says trainers are worried that athletes with head injuries will return to a game and put themselves in a dangerous situation.

"Many kids, especially the younger kids don't understand the significant impact a head injury can have," said Hirschfeld.

Across the state, trainers like Hirschfeld are starting a new campaign to raise awareness about head injuries.

Now at Hinsdale Central, all student athletes involved in impact sports have to take a computer test. Their responses to simple questions are recorded before the season so trainers can compare brain function after a serious injury.

"It's important that one doesn't return their athlete to play until they have returned to their baseline level," said Hirschfeld.

Dr. Adeel Ahmad says concussions can cause serious problems especially if players are hit again before fully healing.

"There may be rapid and severe swelling to the brain and that can lead to respiratory distress, and in some cases, even death," said Dr. Ahmad.

Connor says by the fourth quarter his answers to the tests were back to normal and he went back in the game.

"At the time I didn't really think about it because I mean, tie game, 21-21, 7000 people watching," said Connors. "Looking back on it, it is kind of scary that I could have been injured again."

Doctors say sometimes it can 72 hours after a concussion for symptoms to show up. So, the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association is sending cards to coaches with simple questions they can ask an athlete to see if they're showing signs of a brain injury.

Click here to request a Concussion Reference Tool at cinn.org


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