In a matter of hours, football fields across the state will be full of players all hoping to rack up some major points for their team. But every time they step out into the Friday night lights, they run the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury that could have severe long term consequences.
In the last two months, Dr. Laurel Rudolph, the Director of Sports Medicine at Marshfield Clinic, has seen 22 patients suffering from concussions.
"The question we always get from coaches is, 'When I was that age there weren't that many concussions,' well actually the reality is I think we're just better at assessing them right now," Dr. Rudolph tells NewsChannel 7.
Even then she says she's sure some patients are never diagnosed,
"You may not even know you have a concussion."
A fact she attributes to the many misconceptions people have about what causes concussion and how to prevent them.
"First of all, the amount of impact has nothing to do with the severity of a concussion," Dr. Rudolph says. "Second of all, you don't have to hit your head to have a concussion. "
But one of the most dangerous myths is something that may surprise you.
"Helmets don't prevent concussions," Dr. Rudolph explains. "Tackling technique is extremely important. I think coaches are very good about that and if someone is symptomatic then they need to remove themselves and allow us to evaluate them and progress them back."
Dr. Rudolph adds the most important things for coaches, parents and players to do is be vigilant. If they see anything out of the norm, report it so that proper precautions can be taken.
"I think one thing we parents have become more educated about is that you can actually treat a concussion," she says. "It's called Cognitive Brain Rest, meaning avoidance of the texting, avoidance of the video games, don't let them drive and let them sleep as much as they want."
Some common symptoms of concussions include headache, ringing of the ears, slurring of speech, confusion, dizziness and nausea. Not everyone will experience these symptoms and they may not be apparent immediately.
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