The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 25, 2013

Playing it safe

The Register-Herald

— A lot has changed in sports over the past few decades.

An athlete, even a mere teenager involved in junior high and high school athletics, was once asked to “shake it off” if he or she “got their bell rung” during competition.

Not any more.

High school and middle school coaches in West Virginia will be trained to watch for signs of student athlete concussions during the upcoming school year.

The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission now requires head coaches for all sports to receive training on how to recognize concussions and how to deal with them.

Others can be involved in the education process, as the training won’t be limited to just coaches. The SSAC is opening the course to anyone in the community interested in caring for or preventing concussions.

Football will be the focus of the effort initially, according to SSAC executive director Gary Ray. But he says concussions can occur in any sport, including soccer and cross country.

The SSAC will collect monthly data on concussions from every participating school.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Center for Disease Control, the signs and symptoms for parents or coaches to look for regarding concussions are:

- Appears dazed or stunned.

- n Is confused about assignment or position

- Forgets an instruction

- Is unsure of game, score or opponent

- Moves clumsily

- Answers questions slowly

- Loses consciousness (even briefly)

- Show mood, behavior or personality changes

Symptoms reported by athletes are:

- Headache or “pressure” in head

- Nausea or vomiting

- Balance problems or dizziness

- Double or blurry vision

- Sensitivity to light or noise

- Feeling sluggish or groggy

If a child is suspected to have suffered a concussion, seek medical attention immediately. While most concussions have only temporary effects, repeated concussions or severe injuries could lead to more serious and long term problems.

It’s an exciting time as preparation for fall sports is about to get under way.

But please, play it safe.

For more information on the SSAC, visit