Responding to Head Injuries on the Playing Field: An Athlete’s Perspective

Editor’s Note: This week, PAR is pleased to welcome guest blogger Alex Trujillo. A senior at Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Alex is an intern this summer in the production department at PAR. He recently had the opportunity to try out our new Concussion Recognition & Response™ app.

As a high school athlete, I experience the culture of sports in an acute way from the inside. Every day on the field, I am in an environment that perpetuates toughness, playing through pain, doing whatever it takes to win, and doing this all for the good of the team. While in principle this is not so horrible (even though it goes against the dogma that fun should be the underlying principle of amateur athletics), it is often taken too far in the wrong ways.

PAR’s Concussion Recognition & Response™ app is part of the growing trend that discourages “toughing out” injuries to the head, as these specific injuries can have extremely negative effects on an athlete if not handled properly. This trend challenges old–fashioned coaches who speak of the “glory days” when one played through absolutely any injury, coaches who believe that the new wave of players should embrace this antiquated ideology. The athletes of today are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before. Yet some coaches put their athletes in danger by pushing them in ways that are perilous to their health. It is good for a coach to motivate and push a player to their physical limits and beyond. This is what good coaches do: They get the most out of every player on their team. However, some coaches try to push their players through injuries, such as concussions, without knowledge of the severity of the injury. Playing through strained muscles, soreness, bumps and bruises, aches and pains is all part of sports. However, a head injury is not something that can be “toughed out.” Research has shown that some cases of degenerative brain diseases, for example Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and various other ailments, can be attributed to continuous abuse of the head over the course of an athletic career. The culture of toughing out all injuries, including those to the head, needs to stop now. The first step towards a change in culture is education about the topic, which is what PAR’s new Concussion Recognition & Response app can help to do.

I have tried the app out myself, and it is very easy to use. It takes the user through a series of yes or no questions, listing symptoms of a concussion and whether or not the athlete displays any of those symptoms. Included are ways to record how the injury occurred, immediate and delayed symptoms, and GPS coordinates to show of the location of the incident.

It would make me feel safer and more supported as an athlete if this app was available on the sideline. If I were to sustain some kind of head trauma—get my “bell rung”—it would be comforting to know that an educated decision about whether to continue playing could be made, even when I was not in the presence of an athletic trainer.

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