Posted: Sep 3, 2013 8:45 AM by Alex Clark - MTN News
HELENA - The National Football League recently came to a whopping $765 million settlement over concussion-related injuries among retired players.
It's an issue we've seen closer to home in Montana, and reporter Alex Clark gives us one such example in the Capital City.
"Rub some dirt in it, and get back in the game." That's what you used to hear after an athlete took a blow to the head or claimed they saw stars after a tackle. Now, Helena is starting to take charge and get ahead of concussions.
"Nobody wanted to hear the message that we were saying, a little guy would get a concussion and tell the parents that he got a concussion and they would say, he can go back in can't he? I mean, they were more concerned with whether he could play football than he had a concussion," Phillip Steele, a physician at Performance Injury Care and Sports Medicine, explained.
Before 2003, all the research on concussions had been done on adults. No one knew the consequences of concussions on children. It wasn't until Missoula athlete Dylan Steiger died that people started to pay attention.
Governor Steve Bullock signed the Dylan Steiger Protection of Youth Athletes Act into law earlier this year. It requires schools to inform coaches, parents, and athletes about the risk of concussions.
This is the first year that local high school athletes are taking an Impact Neuro Psychological Test, which gives doctors a baseline analysis of the athletes reaction time, processing speed and overall mental capability.
Capital High School senior Tristan Shae plays baseball and football and received his second concussion just last week.
"I kind of didn't want to tell anyone but, I was like, for the future, I would like to talk when I'm 35, 40. It's tough, you have to be patient with it, because if you rush it, you're more likely to get another one," he said.
We now know that if an athlete has three or more concussions, it can dramatically increase the risk for learning disabilities, depression, even death.
Steele says that parents play the biggest role in battling concussions. Informing and watching your child is the key. It forces Tristan's parents to consider if he should play at all.
"Is the reward worth the risk of having long term issues? You know, is it really worth it and is high school football really worth the risk of him having issues, and saying, is it really worth it?" his mother Donna said.
With the improvements in concussion research, athletes can stay ahead of the game and are starting to take the risks more seriously.