Increase in concussions not from injury


ILLINOIS — Even with new legislation, the number of concussion diagnoses are on the rise. They’re up more than 80% from 2010 to 2015.

The increase is not necessarily because of more injuries. The numbers are climbing because there’s more awareness of the issue.

It means more student athletes are being properly diagnosed and they can get the treatment they need to get back on the field and in the classroom.

“Each of our sites, whether it be at the soccer field, baseball field or in the gym, we do have emergency action plan sheets.”

Heather Greer is over the athletic department at Pleasant Plains High School. She says her number one concern in her years, is making sure injured athletes return with a clean bill of health.

“Once we know that a student has been diagnosed with a concussion, you make sure that our trainer has seen them and they’ve also seen a doctor.”

Thanks to new legislation, Greer says students with head injuries don’t have to quickly return to the classroom or the field.

“In the return to play, they have to go through a series of testing over numerous days to make sure that they are safe and ready to go back.”

Last year alone, more than 8,000 student athletes, between the ages of 10 – 19 were diagnosed in emergency rooms with concussions. But, the reason might surprise you.

“It’s recorded and reported cases. The thing is we’re getting better educated.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois reports an 83% increase between 2010 – 2015. Devin Spears, with Memorial Sportscare, says many laws like the return to play and oversight teams bring accurate diagnoses.

“More schools are bringing athletic trainers on the sidelines which is also the reason why you’re seeing more of these things. So, the educational piece is huge and that’s why you’re seeing more cases reported.”

Spears says it takes more than medical professionals to make sure students are treated effectively. He says it also takes safety.

“If we’re teaching heads up and making sure kids aren’t leading with the crowns of their heads or when you’re heading a soccer ball that you’re heading it the proper way.”

The law mandates all schools in the state have a concussion oversight team to help determine a plan for student athletes to return to class and go back to their sport.

The oversight team must have at least one licensed physician, an athletic trainer and, if the school employs one, a school nurse, as well as a person who is responsible for implementation and compliance with the protocols.

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