In recent years we have learned a lot about the importance of taking concussions seriously. From pee wee competitions to the NFL, there are now clear concussion protocols in the rule books. A new study out this week confirms such awareness is important.
Tuesday afternoon found the Blue Dukes football squad at Whitefish Bay High School on the practice field. In addition to their coaches, the athletes were being watched by Danielle Lueck.
Lueck, employed by the Aurora Sports Medicine Institute, assesses injuries, tapes up trauma and keeps an eye out for concussions.
"Based on Wisconsin law, if they display any signs or symptoms of a potential concussion, they're immediately done for the day," she said.
Wisconsin law is now backed firmly by science. A study published this week in the Journal of Pediatrics found that high school athletes who kept playing in the minutes after a concussion took nearly twice as long to recover as those who were taken out of the game right away.
Dr. Juanita Celix is a neurosurgeon with Aurora Healthcare. She hopes the new study will have an impact on the sports mind-set that frowns on leaving a game.
"One of the first impacts I hope that it has is that coaches and parents and anybody that's involved in athletics for kids pays attention to 'yea we really should be sidelining these kids for a period of time to let their brains rest.'"
Nothing in the study is remotely surprising to this seasoned brain surgeon, but now she has empirical data to back her up when she lays down the law on head trauma.
"Anytime a child takes a bump to the head, falls during a tackle or there's any concern that they might have hit their head, they should just be sat out for the rest of the game," she said.
Dr. Celix is particularly concerned about a phenomenon called second impact syndrome. That's when an athlete sustains a concussion, returns to competition and receives a second blow to the head which can cause massive swelling in the brain.