(COVINGTON, La.) — Concussions have been the subject of much controversy in sports at all levels over the years. While concussions can happen in all sports, many of them occur in football.
Millions of dollars have gone to researching a way to prevent concussions in the game that has usurped baseball as America’s pastime. St. Paul’s School is no different, using a variety of equipment and enhanced policies to protect athletes on the football field this season.
“There’s nothing that prevents concussions,” Head Football Coach Ken Sears said. “There’s no helmet or pair of shoulder pads to prevent concussions. Nothing’s out there that will totally protect you. But, we use five different helmets. Part of the deal with helmets is that they’ve got to be the right fit; everybody has a different sized head. But the helmet (doesn’t give) total protection; it’s going to happen anyway.”
Sears says that since many concussions come from a hit to the jaw, he strongly advises a padded chin strap.
“We use a variety of different equipment because a variety helps us fit players better,” Sears said.
Chris Stipe, athletic trainer at St. Paul’s, is usually the first person to treat recently-concussed athletes.
“A concussion is basically an interruption in the way a brain functions. It’s usually due to a rapid deceleration, like when your head hits the turf in a football game,” Stipe said. “It’s basically damage to the brain and the way it functions.”
Stipe says there are several symptoms to look for in diagnosing a concussion.
“Anything from unconsciousness, headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, dizziness, blurred vision, irritability, memory and balance problems, just to name a few,” Stipe said.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) has policies in the event of a possible concussion, all of which St. Paul’s Athletic Director Craig Ketelsen knows extensively.
“Any athlete that shows signs or symptoms, even one, of a possible concussion, will be taken out of the game and removed until such a time as a certified medical personnel can determine he does not have a concussion,” Ketelsen said.
Concussions can happen in any sport, yet they occur in football more than any other. According to a study reported by ESPN, male football players are nearly three times more likely to get a concussion in football than male soccer players, nearly four times more likely than a male basketball player, and nearly twice as likely as a male wrestler.
The effects of concussions can be far-reaching, and former New Orleans Saints’ Offensive Tackle Kyle Turley stated in a column he wrote for Time that his brain is “battered and impaired in the areas of decision-making and impulse-control and rage” due to previous concussions.
Concussions are serious, but the St. Paul’s Athletic Department states that they are making every effort to lessen the blow.