Concussion concerns as student athletes head out to football games

Head injuries are a concern of doctors and some former players as football season gets going. (WSYX/WTTE)

High school football season is kicking off this week. Thousands of Central Ohio boys will be out on the field giving it their all. But student-athletes are at risk of getting concussions that could bring some serious health consequences.

Bishop Hartley head coach Brad Burchfield said they have changed some of their philosophies. For one, less contact at practice to prevent concussions. Burchfield also said they are encouraging parents to buy good quality helmets for their child to ensure a good fit. Prices range from about $235 to $400.

Clayton Maynard is now a student at Ohio State University. Maynard used to play high school football until he had two concussions back-to-back. "It hurt pretty bad, I blacked out twice.After the second one my parents called it quits on it so I didn't play again after that."

Maynard said he wanted to be out competing with his team mates but he knew his parents and coaches had his best interest at heart. "Don't risk permanent injury. I would definitely say if you get a couple of them it is just not worth it."

Dr. Geoffrey Eubank, Ohio Health's System Chief General Neurologist said a return-to-play law went into effect in 2013 that said if an athlete sustains a concussion, the student is not allowed to return to play until he is assessed by a physician.

"The old days it was kinda like shake it off, your bell's rung, get back in there. Now the players get educated , the coaches get educated, trainers, even the referees, so that if somebody is in field play and it appears they have suffered a concussion they are taken out immediately and they don't return to play," said Eubank.

Many schools are tracking base-line neurological function on student athletes and keeping records if there is evidence of a concussion. Eubank recommends athletes take a few days to a week off for a first concussion. "You need people to do normal non-exertion activities,lay low, don't have a lot of stimuli but after a couple, two to three days especially if symptoms subside, you need to kinda like get back to some normal but not aggressive activities."

Often times they want to play their sport badly enough that they may minimize their symptoms. "So if you have a player that got involved in a concussion and you know your player is not doing well then make sure you have that discussion with the player and say I know you are not acting the same , don't minimize this.

Let's get this evaluated and make sure you are doing well before you try to return to the sport that you like," said Eubank.

The Institute of Medicine reported that high school football players suffer 11.2 concussions for every 10,000 games. The Ohio High School Athletic Association does not track concussions.

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