MHS following concussion trendNationwide, concussions in high school athletics are becoming more frequent, a trend a local athletic trainer says is followed in Mitchell.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
Nationwide, concussions in high school athletics are becoming more frequent, a trend a local athletic trainer says is followed in Mitchell.
Mitchell High School athletic trainer Clayton Gropper, who has worked with the Kernels for 12 years, said concussions have been diagnosed more frequently within the past few years because people are more aware of them.
“Things we wouldn’t have considered a concussion five to seven years ago are taken seriously now,” he said. “Everybody is more cautious and it’s a hot-button topic.”
So far this year, eight athletes — which include only Mitchell High School athletes who participate in school-affiliated sports — have lost playing time due to a concussion. This number excludes athletes involved in club sports such as hockey, baseball, softball, swimming, etc.
There were six recorded concussions for the entire 2011-2012 school year and seven in 2010-2011. Gropper said eight concussions by this point in this school year are the most he’s ever seen. He said since athletes are more knowledgeable of concussions today, they report the symptoms on a more frequent basis than in the past.
Concussions have surfaced more regularly in Mitchell for the past two years because of Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, or ImPACT.
ImPACT was developed to provide information to assist practitioners in making sound return to play decisions following concussions. It tests an athlete’s memory, speed and reaction.
“It’s just a tool that gives a baseline in the mental state,” said Gropper, adding the high school was introduced to ImPACT by Dakota Wesleyan University. “Wesleyan was using it and we got on board.”
The high school has a limited amount of licenses and limits the test to athletes who participate in contact sports. The tests are also limited to athletes who participate in state-affiliated sports, not club sports.
Mitchell Marlin hockey players have experienced the trend like high school athletes. Four players on the boys’ varsity team have sat out games due to concussions this season — more than any other season, according to boys’ varsity coach John Lord.
“I don’t remember anything like this year where we’ve had kids sitting out for an extended period of time,” said Lord, adding the team only had one player sit out last season as a result of a concussion.
Lord said he requested a medical professional to be at games in previous years but the Mitchell Hockey Association hasn’t funded one until early January. Now, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) from the Mitchell Police Department has been at every boys’ varsity home game since Jan. 4.
“I’m hoping next year that we have a staffed athletic trainer at all boys’ varsity home games,” Lord said. “I’d like to see that provided throughout the state no matter where we play.”
With the upward trend of concussions, Gropper said the only way to lessen the injury from occurring is to educate people about them.
“There’s not a way to prevent them, and it’s something that (impact sports) have to deal with,” he said. “We’re going to see increased awareness from everyone around sports and people are going to be able to watch for the symptoms so they can be treated.”