Head Games

We’ve all been hearing a lot about concussions in sports.

The NFL, in particular, has been trying to figure out a process that can protect its players from serious brain injuries while still maintaining the violent nature of the sport.

Will Smith stars in a film – simply called “Concussion” – that hasn’t made as much money as expected but nevertheless is a movie every sports fan should see.

We have heard about the concussion protocol and the baseline test that gives trainers and doctors more information about an athlete to use during evaluation.

The NJSIAA has one of the toughest concussion policies in the country.

It calls for, in part, immediate removal from play of athletes suspected of having suffered a concussion; who have sustained a concussion; and/or lost consciousness during an athletic event; and medical evaluation (including use of symptom checklists, baseline and balance testing) to determine the presence or absence of concussion.

The NJSIAA has tough return-to-play guidelines, too.

For those athletes diagnosed with a concussion, no return to play until -

The athlete completes a symptom-free week, followed by completion of a six-step graduated return-to-play exercise protocol over a minimum of five days, during which time the athlete must be monitored for any recurrence of concussion symptoms, for a total minimum time before return to play of 12 days.

If the student-athlete experiences a re-emergence of any post-concussion signs or symptoms once they return to play, they must stop playing and return to their primary care physician or team doctor for re-evaluation.

If concussion symptoms reoccur during the graduated return-to-play exercise protocol, the athlete must return to the previous level of activity that caused no symptoms and then advance to the next step as tolerated.

When we think of concussions we usually think of boxing or football. But athletes competing in soccer, ice hockey, basketball and other sports need to be aware, as well.

There is a four year old film called “Head Games: the global concussion crisis.” It is based on a book by Chris Nowinski, a former all star football player in the Ivy League. It got a lot of positive reviews and recognition in 2012, including selection as Sports Illustrated’s sports film of the year.

But many of us might have missed it four years ago. You can watch it now by visiting HeadGamesTheFilm.com. It is also available on DirecTV’s On Demand and is probably on Comcast and other providers, too.

If you are a high school athlete, make sure you watch Head Games.

If you are a high school coach, make sure you watch Head Games.

If you are a high school trainer, make sure you watch Head Games.

If you are the parent of a high school athlete, make sure you watch Head Games.

Tom Williams’ sports columns can be found online at ShoreNewsToday.com, where comments can be made. Older columns are at OceanCitySports.com. Direct reactions or questions about the column can be sent via email to Tom.Williams@catamaranmedia.com.

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