Scared Straight

Last July, I received a call from a friend who informed me he would be unable to stop over as promised because his son had just gotten his “bell rung” sliding into third base.

My friend and his wife appeared to do all the right things--they took him to the emergency room, followed up with the family doctor and heeded his advice to give it a week to “clear up.”

More than a week later, the boy went to his last baseball game of the season. Sometime during the warm-up, he felt a little woozy and fell to the ground.

The family again followed up with the doctor who told them to shut it down for the season.

Again, the family followed his advice. All the boy’s symptoms seemed to disappear. Everything appeared normal. The leaves changed, October arrived and basketball season started.

For a few weeks, life continued as normal until the boy blacked out and collapsed again at school just before lunch.

The ambulance arrived and took him to the emergency room where he was told nothing was wrong and he was probably just light-headed from not eating breakfast. The dizzy spells continued for several weeks and even worsened as he began to suffer horrible headaches and fumble through his schoolwork.

Despite the fact he had been diagnosed with a concussion in the summer, everyone felt it was unlikely the events were related because it had been “so long ago.”

Finally--after hearing of another boy in town who had similar symptoms--the boy’s parents investigated and found the other boy’s problems all stemmed from a concussion he sustained while playing football.

Upon meeting with a neurologist who specialized in sports-related trauma, the parents quickly discovered that all of the boy’s symptoms (except the black-outs) perfectly correlated with those of a concussion.

So, now he’s going to take a baseline concussion test, a test his parents wish he had taken previously so they have some data to use in determining if his brain function is improving.

Until this incident, I didn’t consider the national concussion discussion relevant to us here in the parks and recreation world. Now, I’m not so sure. Quite frankly, it scares me--so much that all my kids are getting baseline tests and being forced to take what I consider prudent precautions--mouth guards and head bands for my soccer players, mouth guards and helmet straps for my baseball player and helmets for any activity involving wheels, skis or snowboards.

What are your thoughts? Should we be administering baseline concussion tests to kids in elementary or middle school as opposed to waiting until they reach high school? Should it be mandatory at a certain age?

Till next month…

Rodney J. Auth


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