Tracking Concussions of Student Athletes

2016-0215 Football Concussion

By Greg Bledsoe and Andie Adams | NBC7 San Diego

A data-tracking company is hoping to put some data behind concussion concerns in school sports. NBC 7’s Greg Bledsoe reports.

A La Jolla High School student is still unable to return to class after suffering a brain injury that may have happened during a football game, NBC 7’s media partner the Voice of San Diego reports.

The 17-year-old suffered a concussion during a game, but he stayed on the field, despite telling a junior varsity assistant football coach that he was hurt, his father said. The player ended up vomiting on the sidelines – sign of head injury.

The student is receiving treatment, but he has not been back to school for a full day since. His father told the VOSD his son experiences searing headaches reading more than three lines of text. The teen must cover his eyes on a bright day.

The assistant coach involved, Steven Wachs, was suspended after the incident, but he disputes the story, saying no one told him the boy was injured.

The LJHS student’s plight is an example of the problem lying before millions of parents: should they put their kids in sports and run the risk of brain injury?

The Agency for Student Health Research, a San Diego-based company, hopes to add some data to the decision by identifying the biggest concussion culprits and what’s being done.

“Number one is football,” said the group’s founder Charlie Wund. “But the number two sport is cheerleading.”

My Opinion

There are a few facts in the story that bother me. First, it is amazing to me an assistant coach would claim nobody told him of the incident and he did not notice one of his players vomiting on the sideline. Second, it is impossible to believe the player and his parents were completely unaware of the injury risk in playing contact football. Third, knowing the relative risk of a sport is not the same as knowing the actual risk or a true picture of the recovery process should a concussion occur. For example, if complete healing took place without any effort in less than a week, perhaps the risk is not so bad. But if the recovery process requires significant effort and the repercussions could last a life time or result in an early death, perhaps the risk is not worth the reward.

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