17 Duval student-athletes suffer concussions in last month

By Jennifer Waugh - The Morning Show anchor, I-Team reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More than a dozen student-athletes have suffered concussions playing sports at their Duval County school in the last month.

According to the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program, 17 players have sustained concussions during play since Aug. 4. As many as eight of them attend the same school.

JSMP did not release which schools reported the injuries, but this is an example of just how common concussions occur among students in middle and high school.

There are questions all parents should be asking their school's coach or athletic trainer to protect their children from serious brain injury associated with returning to play too early after a concussion:

What is the school's return to play protocol? 

Dr. Howard Weiss, of Brooks Rehabilitation, said a child who returns to the field or the court too early after suffering a concussion can suffer permanent brain injury.

"I had one player who I sent to the hospital after he was hit on the field last week. He kept closing his eyes and wanting to go to sleep," Weiss said.

Some players have serious concussions, others are less severe. Some may have to stay off the field for days others may be able to return with limitations, such as no contact play for a few days, Weiss said.

Do you offer baseline testing?

All Duval, St. Johns, Nassau and Clay county schools have baseline testing available for student athletes. This is a test they can take on the computer at the beginning of the season. If a player sustains a concussion, they take the same test to determine if their cognitive function has returned to normal. It is an excellent way to prevent a player from returning too early after sustaining a concussion.

Baseline testing is not required, but is available. Students can ask the athletic trainer at their school for details.

What sports are most prone to concussions?

Athletes in nearly all sports are at risk of concussion, not just football players.

"I see woman soccer players and women lacrosse players who suffer concussions," Weiss said. "Cheerleaders, softball and baseball players, too."

What is a concussion?

When a person gets hit the brain actually stops working for a moment.

"The person gets amnesia, doesn't remember what happened, gets blurred vision. Really the brain shuts down for a moment," Weiss said.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

There are 22 or more symptoms.

"Memory loss about what happened, dizziness, fogginess, sensitive to light. It sounds like everyone is screaming in your ears," Weiss said.

Nausea, vomiting and headaches are the most common symptoms. Weiss said children don't normally have headaches unless they are prone to migraines.

"I always grade the headaches on a scale of zero to 10, zero being none and 10 being the worst imaginable. Children will always tell you my headache is an eight, and if they keep telling you their headache is worsening, then you need to call a doctor," Weiss said.

This Saturday you can learn more about a number of different topics, including concussions, heat-related illnesses and how to prevent sports injuries, by attending the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program's Injury Free Zone at Raines High School. It's from 4-6 p.m. and is free to the public.

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