During a high school football game last year between Madras and Redmond, Apex Physical Therapy co-owner and licensed athletic trainer Brock Monger, DPT, ATC, noticed the familiar signs of a potential concussion. The crack of helmets, a delay in getting up, a slight stumble, disorientation … to a trained eye, the symptoms of a concussion are difficult to miss, even from the sidelines.
“I have about a three-second threshold,” Brock said. “If a player takes three seconds or more to get to his feet, I don’t hesitate – I’m on the field to check on his condition.”
On this particular night, Brock initially diagnosed a possible concussion and had just helped the player to the sidelines for additional testing. While he was attending to the player, a coach interrupted.
“He suspected another kid was experiencing concussion-type symptoms and he wanted to bring it to my attention,” Brock said. “This is great awareness on the coach’s part, and it definitely signals an across-the-board improvement in people’s awareness about concussions, from student-athletes and their parents to school administrators and coaches. We’re definitely headed in a good direction.”
Since the fall of 2007, Brock has provided athletic training services along the sidelines at Madras High School football games as well as courtside during several boys’ and girls’ basketball games. Throughout these six years, Brock credits the efforts of the health care community – locally, regionally and nationally – in working to shift the sports culture from cavalier to caution when it comes to the potential for head injury.
“Better awareness by coaches and administrators, thanks to efforts by leaders in the health care community, have helped change the sports culture from ‘getting your bell rung’ to ‘when it doubt, sit it out,’” he said.
Brock added that there’s still work to do. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), for instance, between 4 and 6 percent of high school football athletes sustain concussions each year, with studies suggesting that nearly half of these athletes don’t report signs of a concussion to medical personnel. Here are some other concussion facts:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur each year.
- According to the Sports Concussion Institute (SCI), 5 to 10 percent of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sport. Symptoms typically include headache (85 percent of concussions) and dizziness (70-80 percent), while fewer than 10 percent of concussions will result in a lack of consciousness.
- Also according to the SCI, football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75 percent chance for concussion) while for females, that sport is soccer (50 percent chance of concussion).
“Awareness is better, but concussions still present a serious problem in contact sports, especially with high school athletes who are smaller in stature and strength and who haven’t mastered proper technique,” Brock said. “Plus, no device can truly prevent a concussion. So when it comes to concussion prevention, diagnosis and recover, education is key.”