Jul 30, 2014 10:31 PM by Andy Koen
PUEBLO - For student athletes, back to school time usually means time for sports physicals. However you can add base-line concussion testing to that list for teens in Pueblo.
A medical study organized by Doctor Rocky Khosla, MD of Rocky Mountain Sports and Family Medicine has collected more than 5,000 baseline concussion tests from high school, middle school and college athletes in Pueblo and Fremont Counties.
The program is funded by Centura Health and requires all student athletes to take the baseline tests over the internet via the company ImPACT.
Khosla said he was motivation to begin the project came in 2011 after state lawmakers passed the Jake Snakenberg act requiring mandatory concussion training for coaches in the state.
"I'm pretty sure this is going to be law," Khosla told the schools "Which means we're going to have to educate coaches, we're going to have to be ready."
Thanks to his leadership and the eager cooperation from Centura and the school districts, Pueblo has one of the largest concussion baseline databases around.
"There's no other project like this in the country, with the volumes we have," Dr. Khosla said.
That data is revealing trends about concussions suffered by students in the community. Between July of 2013 and June of 2014, Khosla tracked 152 concussion patients. Boys outnumbered girls by 2-to-1 margin for the injuries. Football players suffered the most concussions among boys and soccer players among girls.
Khosla plans to eventually publish his findings, but is still early in the evaluation process.
"The amount of information we have is just tremendous and I'm just starting to comb through it now," he said.
He noticed that concussions are less frequent among middle schoolers. However, children in that age who suffer concussions take longer to recover than high schoolers. Likewise, college athletes recovered faster than high schoolers.
Centura had developed a color-coded three step protocol for concussion patients. A pink sheet is filled out by the designated team concussion leader. It asks for obvious signs severe concussion symptoms as well as the results of any post injury cognitive testing conducted.
The student is then asked to track their symptoms using a yellow sheet. Finally, they have primary care physician evaluate their recovery and give the green light to return to playing.
Dolores Huerta Preparatory Academy Head Football Coach Vic Quintana says those green sheets are mandatory before any of his players can return to the field.
"Here at DHPH, the doctor have every say," Quintana said.
He and assistant coaches take annual training classes to help them recognize concussion symptoms. He also points out how football helmets made by the Riddle company now come 10 year expiration dates, and require factory refurbishing every two to three years.
Stickers placed on the inside and outside of the helmets tell parents and referees quickly when a helmet was last refurbished.
"We're showing our student athletes, we're showing our parents ... everyone that we care about our student athletes and we want them to live a successful life after they're in school, after they're done being an athlete," Quintana said.
A second baseline concussion test is being introduced to students this school year. Dr. Khosla said those scores will be added to the growing body of research in Pueblo on concussion treatment and prevention.