With concussions on the rise in high school athletics, Appoquinimink and Middletown High Schools are joining the state in educating coaches, student athletes, and parents on how to prevent and care for what could be a serious injury.
The biggest push for the entire state is with the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) is in regards to concussions, said Appoquinimink High School Athletic Director Jordan Legath.
Last year, there were about 30 student athletes at AHS who had concussions, he said.
At Middletown High School, Athletic Director Joe Lahutksy said that they saw between 10 and 15 last year.
Four or five were in football, and the same in wrestling, he said.
Both schools do baseline testing now too, which is a common practice statewide.
“It’s a program that measures cognitive ability when [the student athletes] are supposed to be normal,” Lahutksy said. “We do a preseason test on all of the kids to know where they are before a concussion. Then we can give them the test again and see how they perform after possibly receiving a concussion.”
All coaches statewide are required to take a certification course on line about concussions before they can even step on the field now.
Most coaches are already well versed in taking care of their athletes, but this will emphasize more on what could be a traumatic brain injury, Legath said.
There is also an online course for parents and student athletes to take as well.
“There is a lot of new information out there regarding concussions,” Legath said. “In the past, there were grades – with a four being the most serious. Now a concussion is a concussion and everyone is different in how they heal.”
Some can take a week and others can take a month, he said.
Symptoms of a concussion also differ from person to person.
Not everyone blacks out when they hit their head.
Some common symptoms of a concussion are headache, sensitivity to light, nausea, and fatigue, Legath said. Not everyone loses memory, but some people do.
At the schools, trainers will ask student athletes a question after they injure their head and then ask them the same question about five minutes later to see if they lost memory.
Both high schools have professional athletic trainers on hand through Premiere Physical Therapy.
“A common misconception about concussions is that the player has to be knocked out,” Legath said.
Blacking out and memory loss don’t always happen, he said.
“You don’t have to physically lose consciousness.”