The guest speaker for the training was Dr. Drew Ferguson, director of UAB Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Ferguson presented a program entitled “Heads Up Concussion in Youth Sports.”
Ferguson said Alabama recently passed a state law that mandates that all athletes who suffer a concussion or suspected concussion must be evaluated by a qualified physician before returning to play.
“Athletes should not be allowed to return to play, especially not on the same day as they are injured, until they have been completely evaluated,” Ferguson said. “Anyone, not just our young athletes, who has suffered a concussion needs rest, both physically and mentally.”
The definition of a concussion as clarified in the hand-out presented by the Concussion Clinic states a concussion is an injury caused by a blow to the head in which the brain moves rapidly and may collide with the inside of the skull. Even minor “dings” or getting your “bell rung” may be of concern because serious injury may result.
Ferguson said injured players need to rest, but the brain needs to rest as well, following even the slightest of concussions.
Any athlete who suffers a concussion should follow a stepwise symptom-limited program, with stages of progression, which include physical and metal rest, light aerobic exercise, sport-specific exercise, non-contact training drills (start with light resistance training) and full contact training after medical clearance before returning to competition.
And one the “Heads Up Concussion in Youth Sports” program’s primary goals is educating, trainers, coaches, athletic directors and parents about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussion in young athletes.
Cordova football coach Woody Smothers said Tuesday’s training was very important because he wanted to do whatever was necessary to keep his players safe.
“If they’re making new discoveries regarding concussions, we need to know about it. We already had two players who had concussion symptoms during our spring training and one so far during our fall training,” Smothers said. “So this new information is very important to me, because we strive to do the best we can to keep our players safe, and we’re really tickled that our numbers are down from last year. And I believe a lot of that is because we are more aware of what’s going on, and we don’t do drills at full speed anymore, so we’re not getting as many hurt players.”
Smothers said he has a young team this year and one of the things he has noticed is the players apparently don’t know how to prepare themselves for a hard hit, which may be leading to some of the more serious injuries such as concussions.
“We’re going to do everything we can to minimize injuries on our team, so we’re going to refocus some of our training to include teaching our kids the correct body movement,” Smothers said. “Heck, we may get even more basic than that, by teaching them how to roll out following a hit.”
Besides receiving information on concussions, the coaches, teachers, sponsors, directors and nurses also received training in CPR/AED, which was provided by Regional Paramedical Services in Jasper.
“We really appreciate RPS for coming out and helping us with our CPR/AED training, they are always so good to help us,” said Walker County Board of Education staff member, Margaret Guthrie. “We had 150 coaches, volunteer coaches, P.E. teachers, cheerleader sponsors, band directors, and school nurses from around the county attend the training, and we currently have 15 certified CPR/AED instructors in our school systems.”