HOUSTON – Medical providers describe concussions as a "mild" brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These brain injuries can have lasting effects that range from losing sight or balance to depression or changes in personality.
In Texas, UIL prohibits full contact until Aug. 11. This morning, Clear Falls High School football players are taking it easier on their bodies and brains before the season begins.
“All injuries are important but it seems like we really focus on concussions,” manager of athletic trainers with Houston Methodist Hospital, Jace Duke, said.
Symptoms of concussions are:
- Light sensitivity
“Anything you have that is a rapid onset of symptoms that come after a blow to the head or the body,” Duke explained.
KPRC has reported on blood tests, spit tests and lots of other detection tools on the horizon, but none of them are widely available yet. Therefore, Duke said trainers still use a pen and paper to conduct "SCAT" testing on the sidelines, but their 100 trainers cover 450 high schools. They can't be everywhere at once.
Therefore, they ask parents to keep trainers informed if you see changes in the student’s behavior.
“A lot of the games go uncovered but we just have to do a great job of educating the coaches and the parents of what to look for and be available when they pick up the phone and call, to jump in a vehicle and go see them,” Duke said.
He said it’s best if a student has a baseline test done to determine their normal memory function before an injury and use that baseline test as a reference if they’re ever injured. The Houston Methodist Concussion Center offers appointments for baseline testing. It is an appointment that costs $5 and may take a couple hours.
There are also apps designed to help parents determine the baseline for your kid and monitor their progress throughout the season.
“Any tool that you can use helps you, and as a parent, having that knowledge of what to look for is always encouraged,” Duke said. “None of these tests are standalone, it's a piece that you use in a long-term management and how things get resolved.”
According to the CDC, returning to normal can take a couple weeks to months. Duke said determining when a student should return to play after a concussion should be individual to each injury and can only be determined by medical staff.