Clay's Clincher-Concussion Discussion

With Eagles QB Michael Vick's injury and the new protocols enacted not just for the NFL, but for high school football, it's a good time to get some burning questions answered concerning concussions and football.

With that, here's a recent e-mail discussion I had with Bob Aparicio, Jr., athletic trainer at Mission High School and President of the Valley Athletic Trainers Association ( VATA ).

Q. Has the new UIL rule regarding concussions been superceded by Texas law, specifically HB 2038?

A. It is true that last year the UIL changed the rule regarding concussions. However, since the passage of Natasha TMs Law in the last legislative session the way concussions are managed is now dictated by state law and not UIL rules. What is coming out of the UIL at this point are recommendations on how to be compliant with the law.

Q. How do you determine a concussion in the moments following impact?

A. Sometimes you can TMt, if the symptoms manifest later on after the concussion has occurred. But, HB 2038 clearly states if one of the following BELIEVES that a student might have sustained a concussion then they are removed from play

Q. If the athlete shows no symptoms immediately, is it possible that they still have a concussion that could develop symptoms later on?

A. Yes this is possible and the responsible person would need to deal with this as soon as it became apparent that the student- athlete was showing signs and symptoms of a concussion.

Q. Conversely, if the athletes TM symptoms manifest themselves only in the 1st few seconds after impact, then go away before they can be examined by a trainer, could they be at risk by staying in the game?

A. This is why it is extremely important as Athletic Trainers we need to educate coaches, students, parents and teachers on the nature of concussions and to let them know that they need to tell someone IMMEDIATELY when the symptoms arise.

Q. Or is that simply what some people think of as getting you bell rung?"

A. GETTING YOUR BELL RUNG is a term that should never be used. A student who GOT THEIR BELL RUNG has sustained a concussion. As licensed health care professionals we should never downplay the severity of concussions. All concussions are serious regardless of how quickly the symptoms resolve. A student with a mild concussion where symptoms may resolve fairly quickly IS STILL susceptible to getting Second Impact Syndrome if returned to play too soon after the initial injury.

Q. I guess the questions we as football fans have is: who TMs making the determination on these athletes, and what parameters are they using?

A. School districts with licensed athletic trainers already have tools in place to deal with these kinds of issues. School districts WITHOUT athletic trainers will have a harder time. Coaches, for the most part, will be the initial responsible person making the call to remove a student from play if there is not an athletic trainer present. This is why the Concussion Oversight Team is so important. This team will develop the guidelines and protocols that each district will use.

Q. Why was the Weslaco safety who got to his feet after a violent collision, then staggered and fell, why was he allowed to come back into the game and allowed to play until the Mercedes coaches alerted the referees?

A. I am not aware of the incident in Mercedes. My team was playing Holy Cross High School that night so I think it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.

Q. Who oversees the oversight team?

A. HB 2038 is pretty specific concerning this. The oversight team is appointed or approved by the school board and develops the concussion management protocol for that district. The superintendent or his designee shall oversee the COT and to make sure that the COT develops and implements its protocol.

Q. And if the oversight team fails to do their job, have they broken a state law?

A. I would assume that if you do not do what a law states then you have broken the law.

Q. What are the penalties?

A. I would imagine that you would have to ask that question to someone in the State Capital. I really don TMt know.

Once again I want to thank you for your time. I hope the information I gave you is useful in explaining HB 2038, concussion and concussion management.

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