Game plan for concussions

Published On: Jun 21 2012 10:04:18 PM EDT

Three million -- that's how many sports concussions happen every year and most of them happen, not to the pros, but to high school athletes.

One state has launched an unprecedented effort to teach young athletes about the danger of concussions, to help keep kids healthy and in the game.

"Right as I hit that guy I got this ring. It just went down my spine and up," said Nate Calles.

During a high school football game, the16-year-old quarterback learned about the danger of concussions the hard way.

"Now that I can see it, I'm like oooh," Calles said.

To try to reduce injuries and raise awareness; Arizona became the first state in the country to mandate concussion education and a formal test for student athletes must take before play.

Barrow Neurological Institute developed an online teaching tool called Barrow Brainbook. Doctors, peers and pros help kids understand concussions, and the importance of reporting, and treating them.

"There are deaths that have resulted from multiple concussions in football and other sports so it's really important to get the message out and prevent these problems," said Javier Cardenas, M.D., a neurologist at Barrow Neurological Institute.

Signs of concussion may include headache or pressure in the head, loss of consciousness, confusion, and dizziness, ringing ears, slurred speech or fatigue.

"Now that there's Brainbook, I think kids will start to understand, 'wow, I had a concussion I need to see somebody right away,'" Calles said.

Calles knows he's one of the lucky ones. Thanks to months of treatment and rehab, he's back in the game, hoping this never happens again.

In some states, coaches and trainers are educated about concussions, but not students. The medical professionals who created the Barrow Brainbook program hope that other states will follow Arizona's lead and mandate education for their student athletes about the danger of concussions.

Additional Information:

BRAINBOOK: Barrow, The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), and the Arizona Cardinals recently announced a major breakthrough in concussion prevention and research that is changing the face of high school sports. Arizona recently became the first in the United States to mandate all student athletes undergo concussion education and pass a formal test before play through a new program called Barrow Brainbook. All 100,000 student athletes through the AIA receive their concussion education through Barrow Brainbook, an interactive online site specifically geared toward students. Arizona is the first to define and create the education directly targeting students through a new e-learning module and the AIA is the first to require that every student complete and pass the education module in order to participate in athletics. Barrow Brainbook is currently being evaluated for implementation in other states throughout the nation. ( Source: Barrow50.org)