WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 19, 2011, 09:05 AM

Local coaches and athletic trainers applaud closer look at concussions

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The Issue of concussions has gone to the state capitol in North Dakota. Lawmakers want to see student athletes better protected against concussions. Legislation introduced today would require any athletic activity sponsored by a school district to follow a concussion management program.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

This would include immediate removal from play or practice if a concussion is suspected. Clearance from a licensed health care provider would be needed before that athlete could return.

MICHAEL BERGERONNat'l Inst. / Health & Performance: “Sport concussion is certainly one of the most potentially catastrophic of injuries. So it really comes to the forefront, and needs to be addressed in a very deliberate and aggressive way.

JEFF MILLERNFL Sr. Vice President: “The NFL has a strategy nationally, to try and adopt laws like this youth concussion law that Sen. Berry is introducing here today, across the country. ND seems to be on the leading edge of some of the work being done here.”

Local athletic trainers and coaches are applauding this closer look at concussions, as are the student athletes. More on just how serious this injury can be.

Shanley student and South Hockey player Elliot Bates is back practicing with his team mates again. It has been a long recovery since he suffered a nasty concussion at a hockey tournament over the holidays.

ELLIOT BATESSouth Hockey Player: “I was just out of it. I remember the first two periods and after that my memory is just gone.”

It is the concussion like the one Elliot suffered that concerns coaches like Fargo South's Dave Benson. He supports the move to have athletic programs all on board together to discover, treat, and rehab athletes who suffer the concussions.

DAVE BENSONFargo South Hockey Coach: “It is always better to be safe than sorry. Especially when dealing with a concussion. You could cripple somebody's life if it is not taken seriously, so it is one of those things if you do not know what is going on. You send them in.”

Recovery time can last two to three weeks and doctors tell the high school athletes to avoid texting, computer games, even Facebook. Sanford Athletic Trainer Tony Haneca sees at least 2 concussions a week from hockey, football, to cheerleading.

TONY HANECASanford Athletic Trainer: “With concussions, if you treat it like you should, and let it heal, and then you are hoping if they have a second or third one, you hope you don't have that bad outcome.”

The nationwide attention focusing on concussions is impacting athletes from the NFL down to those who are only dreaming of going pro. The key is getting there safely. It is not just varsity sports. 40-percent of sports-related concussions involve children between the ages of 8 and 13.