By Kevin Eickman
On Wednesday of last week, Steve Peet and Chris Massimini made a presentation at Southern Delaware Physical Therapy in Milford on the serious issue of concussions. Over recent years, the topic of concussions has come to the forefront of athletics. With the high school fall sports season about to begin, we took the opportunity to learn and share what the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) is doing with regards to the issue.
While most people associate concussions with football, they occur in almost all contact sports. A concussion is defined as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), that interferes with the normal function of the brain. The areas that a concussed individual will notice diminished capacity are how they feel, sleep, think, as well as their emotions.
Research indicates that repeated mild TBI’s can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, this can cause severely diminished motor and memory skills. What used to be termed as “having your bell rung” can be a danger to the athlete, if not treated properly. As the knowledge of brain injuries has increased, so to has the treatment and care for the injured athlete.
Athletes by their nature are taught to suck it up, and overcome adversity. This has sometimes made concussions not immediately detectible. The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association has put in place a concussion protocol, this procedure immediately removes the player from competition if it is believed the athlete may have suffered a concussion. They are then evaluated on the sideline by a qualified healthcare professional, and if that professional can’t rule out that a concussion has occurred, the athlete is then removed from the contest. The athlete is not allowed to return to practice or competition until they have received clearance from a qualified medical professional.
The DIAA continues to to look at the way brain injuries are treated, and are constantly looking to improve how Delaware treats concussed players “The concussion committee is aggressively perusing all avenues with regards to this subject,” said Massimini, adding “We are learning more and more each day and continue to try and find ways to make sports as safe as possible.”
Milford Athletic Director Mike Tkach believes that the DIAA is on the right track as well. “We are gathering more information about the issue every day, we want to make sports as safe as possible,” Tkach stated. “While this has always been a part of athletics, the increased awareness of the long term affects has made us realize how important this issue is.”