Xenith, makers of protective headgear for football, have published a great paper on the shift taking place in concussion awareness in sports, and the changes they believe are necessary to keep generations of athletes safe — and potentially healthier for the long-term, after they are finished with their student athletic careers.
From the paper:
Playing through an ankle sprain is understandable, but this mentality has been carried too far with regard to concussive episodes. Nerve cells do not heal the way other body tissues heal. In short, no one’s brain is “tough”. Players may come forward to reveal symptoms of a concussive episode, but it remains likely that players will work to stay on the field. It will be up to those around the players to recognize and report injuries.
Certified athletic trainers are often closest to players regarding physical injuries, and are therefore in a logical position to spot concussive episodes, or elicit honest information from players. Efforts to increase or mandate the presence of athletic trainers are certainly likely to result in better injury recognition.
In the absence of certified athletic trainers, coaches, officials, parents, and players still have a role. One concept, promoted by Dr. Gerry Gioia of Children’s National Medical Center, is called “Carry the Clipboard.” The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers free materials, designed to attach to a clipboard, providing a helpful checklist for awareness and management of concussive episodes. Carry the Clipboard suggests that one adult at each sporting event be assigned to carry the CDC information on a clipboard, designating that adult as responsible for recognizing players who appear to be debilitated, and for contacting a local expert.
Even though players may attempt to conceal their own symptoms, their teammates may be valuable partners in reporting a concussive episode. This unique form of honor code creates a team approach to risk reduction. Parents being attuned to their child’s behaviors may be the most critical element.
A major cultural shift is underway, which should lead to increased recognition of concussive episodes. As the veil is lifted on this injury, a significant short term increase in diagnoses may result. Over time, a corresponding decrease in actual injury risk and diagnoses should occur.