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Oct 25, 2013 3:24 PM by Greg Smith

New information on concussions is affecting local High School Sports

  Earlier this year, a New York high school voted to cancel its football season after one of it's players, Damon Janes, suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit, and died three days later. A similar incident happened here in Colorado, forcing massive legislation and rules changes. The more we learn, however, the more dangerous head injuries become.

  "If there's any, any, any kind of inclining," says Air Force head football coach. "We're going to take that very seriously."

  "We're not going to sacrifice anybody's health for a chance to go win," says CSU-Pueblo head football coach John Wristen. "Are you crazy?"

  The one topic that makes coaches tread this lightly is concussions. Sadly, for many to take concussions this seriously, it took the death of Colorado high school football player Jake Snakenberg. Many still don't know the actual reason he died, Second Impact Syndrome.

  "If we get one concussion, and we're put back in the game before that concussion is cleared," says Functional Neurologist at The Concussion Place, Dr. Brad Gulla. "If we get another one, it can potentially result in death."

  Second Impact Syndrome only affects people 20 years old and younger, but 100 percent of documented cases have caused death. After Snakenberg's passing, Senate Bill 40, or "The Jake Act", required coaches to be trained in concussion awareness. It clearing up a lot of misconceptions.

  "You don't have to hit your head to have a concussion," says Gulla. "Most concussions don't result in a loss of consciousness. And standard CT scans and MRI's don't show concussive injury."

  A concussion takes place when the brain is jarred and makes contact with the inside of the skull. Since no bones or ligaments need to be damaged, X-rays are useless, symptoms are the only way to tell.

  "Feeling spacey, confused, disoriented, perhaps emotional, needed excessive sleep, or can't sleep," says Gulla. "One of the challenges with our youth is the ability to communicate that to adults."

  That riff in communication cropped up when four players suffered concussions on the Palmer Ridge Girls lacrosse team last season. They all sat out their first playoff game, a Bears loss.

  "I felt pretty dizzy and nauseous, and the noises," says Rachel Bryant, Palmer Ridge midfielder. "I was like 'Why is it so loud right now?' and it's bright, and, what time of the day is it? They asked me that and I had no idea."

  "It impacted our team dramatically," says Don Bryant Palmer Ridge head lacrosse coach. "I had to start five freshman for our playoff game. Definitely, concussions are too delicate to mess with. There's no way I would've put these girls in the game. It's something we're taking serious."

  Yet another coach that treads lightly around concussions, and for good reason.

  "We consider concussion in our youth to be epidemic right now," says Gulla. "We're talking about millions per year. And the scary part about that number is we understand that 9 out of 10, 90 percent, go unreported."

  Football is not the only sport dealing with concussions. According to Dr. Gulla, the sport with the most devastating concussions is Cheerleading.

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