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Gearing Up Against Concussions

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Hard knocks are a major part of football, and concussions can take a toll on families.

Nowadays athletes are bigger, faster, and stronger, and there is a connection to the risks children face in sports every day.

Scott Bussy's son attends school in the Leander Independent School. He started playing football when he was seven years old. In last three years his son suffered from four concussions. As a result, the Bussy family made the decision that his son would no longer play contact sports.

"We are cheating fate," Bussy said. "Boys on boys, helmets on helmets, that is what boys do."

At the snap of the ball a player goes from 0-to-100 miles an hour, but when that bone-crushing hit turns into a concussion, it is the parent's world that goes full speed.

Debbie Dolmanet's son, Ryan, is a former Lake Travis High School football player. Ryan suffered from a concussion and also opted out of playing football.

"I felt helpless, and I still feel helpless," Debbie said. "I get emotional, because of everything he's gone through. I wish it had never happened and wouldn't want anybody to go through this."

So, what is the first line of defense? Coaches and trainers must be aggressive and make sure players sit out and not play until they have fully recovered.

Parents also need to have honest conversations with their children to help them get over that "tough culture" mentality.

"It was tough knowing that I'm sitting here not doing anything, and guys I've been playing with for years are playing and they depended on me," Ryan Dolmanet said. "I can't do anything about it."

Doctors who treat concussions said players feel pressure from all directions when it comes to getting back out on the field and playing.

Doctor Michael Reardon is a Seton Neurologist who also works at Dell Children's Concussion Center. He said the hard part is changing the culture surrounding sports.

"Athletes don't want to let their teammates down," Doctor Reardon said. "They feel like people are counting on them. They feel driven by their own motivation to play."

Playing with a concussion can have catastrophic consequences. Concussions happen when the brain bounces around in the skull, and cells become sensitive and do not function normally.

Doctor Alex Valadka is the CEO of Seton Brain and Spine Institute. He said concussions often times contribute to lingering health and mental problems.

"You look at what happens when an athlete ends their career, and often times some of these poor guys end up spiraling downhill," Doctor Valadka said.

Once a concussion happens there is nothing anyone can do to take it away, but there is treatment. New technology and baseline tests help detect brain injuries faster.

Dell Children's Concussion Center treats some of the most complex cases in Central Texas.

"The most important thing that we can provide for people who come in is education," Doctor Reardon said.

So, when that hard-knock happens, and chances are it will, a game plan needs to be in place.

KEYE is holding a Town Hall meeting on the dangers of concussions. It is Thursday at 7pm at the Seton HealthCare Administrative offices across from Dell Children's Medical Center. More information --> http://www.keyetv.com/news/features/town-hall/?wap=0&/

By Cassie Gallo

Gearing Up Against Concussions


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