Concussions are a major concern in football, including at the high school level, but football is not the only sport in which concussions occur. High schools in San Mateo County need to take steps to detect such injuries in athletes in all school sports and use care in determining when students can get back in the game, according to a June 29 grand jury report.
A concussion occurs when a person's head collides with some hard object, including the ground, with an impact severe enough to cause the brain to shake within the skull. Using neurological tests administered on the sidelines, trained coaches and medics can detect concussions by measuring an athlete's brain processing speed, reaction time and visual and verbal memory, the report says.
The grand jury recommends that high schools establish neurological baselines for athletes at the beginning of the sports season and hire trainers certified in testing students and detecting concussions "on the field as they happen." The trainers should be present at all games, including soccer and basketball, the report says.
"Such testing can be used to prevent an injured athlete from returning to play before the brain is fully healed," the report says. "Studies show if a teen athlete returns to play too early, the original injury may become more serious. The athlete could then be at far greater risk for more concussions."
Click here to read the grand jury report online.