Posted Date: 08/23/2018
The forms, the physical exams and the concussion protocol required before a student can play sports are the result of a concern for student health and a desire to keep student’s safe.
In preparation for the start of the fall sports season, CHS Athletic Director Eric Flaton sent out reminders to athletes about getting their physical exams and scheduling a concussion baseline exam at the high school.
The Kansas State High School Athletics Association requires both an annual physical exam and parental consent for concussion protocol, which can be given during online enrollment. Consent for drug testing, which can also be agreed to online, is school board policy.
“We have these policies in place to protect our athletes and put their safety first,” Flaton said. In 2011, “when the state decided to mandate concussion protocol, the hospital and the district decided to add more precautions to help protect our athletes.”
The partnership among Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center, its Foundation, Flaton and the coaches benefits everyone, but particularly the student athlete.
“The coaches are doing a great job of embracing new practice and game techniques to help reduce the number of concussions,” Dr. Mark Wendt said. The addition of impact testing before a student athlete gets injured provides a baseline so physicians to see how the brain responds normally.
Students can take the impact test on a computer in about 30 minutes, Flaton said. The test measures how quickly the brain responds to memory questions. It is not measuring knowledge. It will show medical professionals how the brain reacts in a normal situation.
A concussion is when the brain is subjected to trauma and is injured, Dr. Wendt explained. Immediately following, there is a brief loss of brain function. It may last a minute or 15 minutes. There may be nausea or subtle headaches. Typically, the symptoms will go away before the brain is really back to health.
Prior to impact testing, the medical staff would have had to rely solely on the honesty of the athlete in reporting the symptoms. Unfortunately, Wendt said, many athletes are motivated to hide their symptoms in order to get back into their sport early.
“Impact testing isn’t perfect, but it is objective. They need to get back to that same level of brain performance,” before returning to the game, he said. “Impact testing gives us objective findings that help insure the athlete has recovered fully,” Wendt said. “If a second concussion occurs before an athlete has fully recovered from a previous concussion, the results can be devastating, even life threatening.”
The baseline test, which is good for two years, is being given to seventh graders for the first time, high school freshmen and juniors, Flaton said.
It’s important the test be given to all student athletes, at the middle and high school levels, because the brain matures, Wendt said. Though he primarily sees injured wrestlers or football players, a cheerleader can fall and hit her head. In fact the worst brain injury he’s seen in the last five years was a young man who got hit by a golf ball.
“These coaches have really embraced the health of the athlete,” Wendt said. “I’ve never seen that happen except in Chanute. Coaches want what is best for their athlete, from wrestling to football.”
“The state wants us to be proactive, especially when it comes to things that can harm our children. This is one of those things that have allowed us to be ahead of the curve,” Flaton said.
The school board policy on drug testing is something that students must agree to in order to participate in any activities at Chanute High School. It amounts to the possibility a student could be randomly drug tested once a month. With high school dances and Prom, every student is tested with a breathalyzer, before they are allowed to enter the dance.
“We’re just trying to do what’s best for kids, in the classroom and on the field,” Flaton said.