- Football season kicks off this Friday for many high schools across the state.
But one concern from year to year is how to prevent concussions in high school contact sports.
When sport seasons begin, so does important concussion testing. Rhinelander has two tests.
"What we do here at Rhinelander is we put the kids through the impact test. We've been doing that for quite a few years here at Rhinelander. We got in pretty early with the pilot program," said Rhinelander High School Athletic Trainer Eric Prom.
A concussion happens when the brain moves around inside the skull, causing bruising and the loss of some brain functioning.
"When that hit happens, the brain moves in the skull and the brain hits against the side of the skull and causes the concussion," said Prom.
If a student does experience a high impact hit, athletic trainers can perform a scat 3 test right on the sidelines. One of those tests is a balance examination where athletes must stand on one foot.
"There's a whole assessment that the athletic trainer and the school nurse utilizes to screen students to see where they're at. Then we contact their parents and recommend that they follow up with their provider," said Rhinelander School District Nurse Kerri Schmidt.
Recent studies find repetitive high impact hits can make athletes more susceptible to injury. A new WIAA rule hopes to change that.
"The new rule with the WIAA came out this year where they can only have 60 minutes of contact during the week before a game. That's based on the studies that are looking at the repetitive hits causing concussions," said Prom.
A study by UW Madison says the age and brand of a helmet doesn't change the concussion risk in athletes.
"The helmet isn't inside the skull protecting the brain so the brain is still going to move around whether you have a helmet from four years ago on," said Prom.
The best way to handle concussions is through education.
"We have done coaches clinics, we've educated our staff, we've educated our community, and certainly, sometimes parents don't know how really well educated they are until it happens to them," said Schmidt.
It is important for parents and athletes to recognize symptoms and report them right away. Concussions can happen anywhere at any time.
|Story By: Jeanine Ilacqua