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NEWS STORIES

Local Schools Ahead of the Game with Concussion CareSubmitted: 02/22/2012
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

RHINELANDER - The NFL and other sports leagues are making concussion prevention a priority, and now so is the Wisconsin state legislature.

Senator Roberta Darling is sponsoring a bill that would require any student athlete with concussion symptoms to be pulled from the sport until cleared by a doctor.

Former Green Bay Packer offensive lineman Mark Tauscher was with legislators in Madison trying to garner support for the bill aimed at preventing youth concussions.

The bill would keep student athletes with signs of concussions out of the sport until they're cleared by a doctor. Here in Rhinelander, schools are already ahead of the game.

"The procedure being used by the NFL, is what we've been using here for eight, ten years," says Charlie LaHam, Athletic and Activities Director at Rhinelander High School.

LaHam says awareness of the danger of concussions is nothing like it used to be.

"Concussions were considered part of the game. Today we take great precautions," says LaHam.

The program the Hodags use involves an impact test. Each student takes it before joining a sport to establish a baseline. When they're injured they take the test again, which helps indicate the severity of a concussion. It also helps the school nurse and trainer know when the student is ready to return to the sport.

"The adolescent brain is still a developing brain, and we need to protect the student athlete brain. We don't want them to return to sports until their back to baseline, meaning back to no symptoms," says Kerri Schmidt, the Nurse at Rhinelander School District.

But it's not always easy keeping a passionate athlete on the sidelines.

"It's hard not to be compassionate to that but we have to think long term. I try and share that with them; this isn't about today or tomorrow night's game. This is many years from now. This game will keep going, but you may not," says LaHam.

And they're makeing sure everyone knows it's not just football players who get concussions. Athletic Trainer Eric Prom says he's seen concussions in every sport at Rhinelander High School.

"It doesn't have to be a huge, vicious hit for something like that to happen. It could be falling. You don't even have to hit your head sometimes. It's just the movement of the brain within the skull," says Eric Prom, an Athletic Trainer with Ministry Healthcare who does outreach at Rhinelander High School.

Schmidt says they all operate by these words of wisdom:

"When in doubt, hold the student athlete out," says Schmidt.

Supporters of the concussion legislation want people to call their local senators and urge them to support it. Not all schools are as up to date about treating concussions.

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