Head Injury and Concussion Safety
The smell of the field, the roar from the band, the weight of your shoulder
pads, the sight of the life-size, hand-painted banner in your team’s
colors - stretched across the goalpost: these are all beloved memories
of the gridiron rite of passage so many of us reveled in as youngsters.
The lucky ones enjoyed the tradition throughout their collegiate tenure,
and the truly blessed continued suiting up into their adult years.
Football is a tradition many of us hold dear here in South Louisiana, whether
as former players, passionate fans or both. However, emerging information
about the long-term risk of head trauma is giving many parents and athletes
pause, including myself.
Concussions are not limited to either football players or male athletes.
In any contact sport, including basketball and soccer, head injuries can
occur. Some scientific studies suggest these injuries in female athletes
take longer to heal than in male athletes. As a father and grandfather,
I take that seriously. As a former NFL quarterback, I also want those
coming after me to have the opportunity to experience the same joy and
personal development that I did on the field of athletic competition.
It’s a delicate balance, but one that I believe can be achieved
with foresight, planning and honest discourse.
We can no longer address head trauma as we once did, at any level of sport.
One of the many reasons that I’m proud to now be a part of the Thibodaux
Regional Medical Center family is the amazing work that the Sports Medicine
team is doing to prevent head injuries, and to quickly and accurately
diagnose the ones that can’t be prevented, to prevent long-term harm.
I have become very familiar with the professionalism and expertise demonstrated
by the staff of the Sports Medicine Center of Thibodaux Regional as a
result of our annual trek to Thibodaux to host our summer football camp.
The Manning Passing Academy is a camp that I started with my sons: Cooper,
Peyton and Eli. Each year we welcome twelve-hundred high school-aged campers
to the fields of Nicholls State to hone their athletic skills. Combined
with coaches, counselors and staff, we have over fifteen-hundred individuals
working and playing in the unrelenting South Louisiana heat and humidity.
The athletic trainers are responsible for injury prevention and management,
weather monitoring, and, most importantly, hydration. This past summer,
we had only one individual suffer from a heat-related illness. That proves
to me the preparation and dedication of the sports medicine staff.
Knee, elbow and shoulder injuries in the field of play are often easy to
diagnose, in the sense that one can usually physically see that there
is something abnormal happening to the affected area. That isn’t
the case with the brain, unless specific measures are utilized. An athlete
with a normal CT or MRI scan can still be diagnosed with a concussion,
because function can be impaired even if the structure remains intact.
This is where Thibodaux Regional Health System becomes such a valuable
player in the mission to keep athletes safe. The Sports Medicine team
is highly trained in recognizing subtle, yet tell-tale symptoms that athletes
may have trouble verbalizing when injured. Thibodaux Regional is also
home to state-of-the-art testing technology that gives coaches and parents
added peace of mind that they can ascertain exactly where a person is
in the healing process, which is also something that can’t be verbalized
by any athlete, regardless of age. This information is imperative in ensuring
a complete recovery: returning to the field of competition too soon can
turn a small, treatable injury into a lingering, serious issue. Most importantly,
the experts at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center have devised specific
guidelines that allow for an efficient but safe return-to-play.
It’s crucial that parents and athletes be willing to take two steps.
First, educate yourselves about the latest information in head trauma,
for all athletes, at any level. Secondly, find a doctor that you trust
to work with and always answer his or her questions honestly. Thibodaux
Regional boasts some of the best in the business.
Many programs now work with certified athletic trainers. For instance,
Thibodaux Regional is partnered with Nicholls State University to provide
the best care for our all of the collegiate athletes who call themselves
Colonels. If your child’s athletic program enjoys a similar partnership,
make sure you get to know the care-givers dedicated to keeping your child
safe. If you need to identify an expert, give the Sports Medicine Center
of Thibodaux Regional a call at 985-493-4502.
The fear of head trauma incurred during sporting events doesn’t need
to keep you or your child on the sidelines, as long as you’re armed
with the latest information, a willingness to proactively address the
situation and a qualified physician to help you navigate the injury and recovery.