As fall approaches, students across Central Texas are beginning to suit up for their school’s football teams.
This year, doctors, coaches and parents are out in full force to make sure injuries are minimized on the field through a pilot program focused on player safety.
Players at Murchison Middle School took a new kind of test Thursday. The computer quiz measured the students’ memory, reaction time and concentration.
Carefully supervising was Dr. Michael Reardon, a pediatric neurologist and the Director of the Concussion Center at Dell Children's Medical Center.
The information gleaned from the test could give insight into a common medical issue plaguing many football players—the concussion.
Dr. Reardon knows that even a minor concussion can have major repercussions.
"What research has shown is that a lot of those athletes are really not OK when they are carefully followed over several days to weeks,” he said. “Many of them are still suffering from very mild impairment in brain function."
The results from Thursday’s test will serve as a baseline throughout the year. If a student takes a hard hit during practice or a game, doctors can compare post-injury results.
A concussion has kept James Baran’s brother, Jacob, on the sidelines.
“I think it was bad enough where he would have headaches every day,” eighth-grader James said.
The concussion Jacob suffered while playing for Anderson High School was season ending, but that isn’t deterring his brother James from getting in on the gridiron action.
It has, however, made James aware of the importance of safety.
“I just have a good helmet. I have an air pumped helmet so it will be harder for me to get a concussion,” James said.
While the test may take a few minutes out of practice, many of the young athletes learned this is time well spent.
“I think that it is really good for kids to do this, because it is really bad if you get a concussion,” James said.
But doctors can't carry the ball alone. They say parents should be aware of concussion symptoms and not hesitate to get an evaluation.
Dell Children's is teaming up with a local group called Concussion Health. For more information, visit ConcussionCompliance.org.