Health & Medical Resources Guide
Herald Journal Health & Medical Resources Guide
published July 2011
Concussion awareness at the forefront of high school sports
By Matt Kane, Sports Editor
“My body kind of went limp and there was a dizzy feeling in my head.”
These are the words of Jake Raskob, a 2010 graduate of Delano High School. Raskob was explaining how he felt after making a tackle on a Dassel-Cokato receiver during a high school football game during his junior season in 2008. He continued: “I thought I might have a concussion, but I went one more play.”
On the next play, after telling his defensive back partner that he wasn’t feeling the greatest, Raskob intercepted a pass. He jogged off the field, and never returned to that game. His suspicion of a concussion was correct.
“The trainer asked me to remember three words, and a little while later he asked me to say those words. I think I remembered one,” Raskob said.
Raskob sat out of practice and missed the next week’s regular-season finale before returning for the playoffs.
The concussion, for Raskob, was his sixth. The first, which he considers the worst because he blacked out, occurred in a sledding accident when he was 7 years old. Another happened when he hit his head on the floor while playing basketball as a freshman.
Raskob noted that he seems to get rattled or “shook up” easier than he used to, a possible side affect of his six concussions.
Under the bigger lights of major college and professional sports, helmet-popping hits, like Raskob’s, are regulars on nightly sports highlight reels. Guys like Ronnie Lott, Chuck Cecil, Steve Atwater, John Lynch, and Jack Tatum became NFL legends because of their seek-and-destroy mentalities on the football field. The tackles these players are known for are celebrated. What’s not celebrated is the effect these big hits can have on the victim.
Oftentimes, the result is a concussion.
Concussions, or at least the reports of concussions, seem to have grown over the years in the NFL and in other professional sports, but these brain injuries are not exclusive to athletes on the biggest stages. Concussions can and do happen in small towns across the world to athletes of all skill levels, such as Raskob.
Because of this, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has made it mandatory for all varsity coaches to be trained in concussion protocol. Delano High School is taking it one step further by training its younger-level coaches as well, something the high school league will enforce starting next year.
Mike Lindquist was a soccer coach for two decades before become the activities director at Delano High School in 2010. He knows there have always been concussions in high school sports, but is glad to see the league being proactive in the education of the injuries.
“Concussions have always been here, but you never really knew who had one, and they would often times be sent back into the game,” he said. “Now, there is the protocol.”
The Concussions Management Recommendation for MSHSL Athletes stated that, when a coach, member of the training staff, or referee determines a player is showing signs of a concussion, the following should be applied.
1. The player should not be allowed to return to play in the current game or practice.
2. The player should not be left alone, and regular monitoring of deterioration is essential over the initial few hours after injury.
3. The player should be medically evaluated after the injury.
4. Return to play must follow a medically supervised stepwise process.
The return to play protocol follows a stepwise process:
1. No activity, complete rest until all symptoms have resolved. Once asymptomatic, proceed to Level 2
2. Light aerobic exercise such as walking or stationary cycling. No resistance training.
3. Sport specific exercise. For example: skating in hockey and running in soccer. Progressive addition of resistance training at step 3 or 4.
4. Non-contact training drills.
5. Full contact training after medical clearance
6. Game play.
A player should never return to play while still symptomatic. The league says: “When in doubt, sit them out.”
Symptoms of a concussion can include:
- Balance problems or fuzziness
- Double or fuzzy vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish
- Feeling foggy or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems (forgetting game plays)
While coaches are trained in what to look for and how to respond to a concussion, schools in Minnesota are required to have a trainer at football and ice hockey games. Delano follows these rules, and also hires a trainer for soccer games and other special events, such as volleyball, wrestling and gymnastic tournaments.
“You could probably warrant a trainer at all events. You can always a have a head injury,” Lindquist said.
At the sporting events where a trainer is not present, it is up to the players, coaches, and even the referees and umpires to spot symptoms of concussions.
“I’ve had referees pull me aside to tell me to make sure someone doesn’t get back into the game,” said Ridgeview physical therapist Beth Fruechte, who works as Delano High School’s on-field athletic trainer.
“I think it is important that parents are educated,” said Lindquist. “We go over concussions at our registration night.”
The school works with its trainers to stay informed on a player’s status, and to provide the best care.
Delano’s trainers come from Ridgeview Medical Center. Fruechte was assigned to the school during the 2010-11 year, one year after Raskob graduated, and will be again in 2011-12. Fruechte estimates she treated at least 10 Delano athletes for concussions during her one year at the school, and pointed out that the numbers are probably greater since others may have self-diagnosed themselves with a concussion or sought medical treatment elsewhere.
Fruechte stresses the importance of making sure the athlete is completely symptom-free for one week before he or she can return to the field.
“If he or she has a headache, it’s not worth it to go out there and risk injuring yourself again,” she said. “It’s better to sit out one game than the rest of the season.”
Second impact syndrome, which can occur when an athlete re-injures the brain before it was healed, can cause more serious problems.
Fruechte works out of the Delano clinic, and that proximity to the school has benefited the school and its athletes greatly.
“The students can go to the local clinic to see her,” Lindquist said.
Fruechte and the school and its coaches stay in constant contact about an athlete’s condition following a concussion.
“The coaches have done a really good job of communicating with me and in setting up a plan,” Fruechte said. “That makes my job a lot easier.”
Fruechte and Lindquist will make sure parents and student athletes are informed at the sports information meeting prior to the fall season. Fruechte and Ridgeview promote that athletes come to the clinic for impact testing prior to starting a sport, so the clinic and its caretakers have a baseline to compare potential future head injuries to.
The seriousness of concussions in sports has promoted growing media coverage, and has even prompted lawmakers to take action.
In June, Minnesota passed a concussion law that says young athletes who show signs of a concussion must have an all-clear medical clearance by a licensed care provider, such as Fruechte.
Fruechte explained the bill further: “Parents and athletes have to sign an information sheet saying they understand the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and what’s expected of them.”
The bill came three years after Raskob sustained his concussion on the football field. He noted that he had a lot of the say about when he returned to football practice, but doesn’t think that was the best way to go.
“(The) trainer did a good job, but I think they shouldn’t leave the decision up to the kid,” Raskob said.
The new bill makes sure the decision to return following a concussion is no longer up to the athlete.
Fruechte credits the media coverage for bringing awareness about concussions.
“It’s getting better. With Justin Morneau, that opened eyes, so people realize it can be more serious than a little ding,” she said. “There is still a long way to go to educate parents and athletes. Coaches seem to realize it is a big thing.
“I think people realize concussions are more serious than they used to think,” Fruechte said. “There is no such thing as a mild concussion. They are all serious no matter how minor they seem.”
More information on MSHSL policies and guidelines concerning concussions can be found at the league’s web site at www.mshsl.org and by searching for concussions. There, one can find fact sheets for parents and athletes on concussions.
Google “Minnesota concussion bill” to read articles on the recently passed bill.
Concussion costs player a season
By Aaron Schultz, Sports Editor
For Lester Prairie senior Jared Kadrie, the start of his final year in high school normally would have meant the start of football in August.
A captain as a junior in 2010, Kadrie was the Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs starting quarterback and safety, and had been playing on varsity since his freshmen season.
Then came one moment along the sidelines last year during a game, and everything changed.
Kadrie was returning a punt, and as he ran out of bounds, a player from the opposing team tackled him late.
On the tackle, Kadrie’s head whipped, and the side of his helmet hit the turf pretty hard.
“I really don’t remember anything that happened after that,” Kadrie said. “I don’t even remember anything leading up to that game that day.”
In fact, Kadrie also said that there are many other memories that left him, including a family vacation he took.
As Kadrie lay on the field, a trainer came to check him out, and immediately figured he had, at least, a grade two concussion.
Kadrie was then transported to an area hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a more serious level three concussion, which is the worse concussion someone can sustain.
“On the way to the hospital, my parents said I just kept repeating myself, and was cycling through the same questions,” Kadrie said.
They did additional tests on Kadrie at the hospital, and determined he didn’t have any bleeds on the brain, and a few days later he went to see a specialist.
The doctor recommended that he stay home from school the next week, and that he shouldn’t play football again in 2010.
“I stayed home from school that entire next week, and the headaches were bad,” Kadrie said. “The following week, I went to school for half-a-day, but the headaches returned, so I needed to go back home.”
According to Kadrie, it took him nearly a month until he started feeling any better, and he didn’t feel 100 percent until just this summer.
Kadrie did play basketball in the winter, and baseball this spring, where the threat of getting another concussion is much less.
Still, there were a few moments that left everyone holding their breaths.
“I was hit in the helmet this spring by a pitch,” Kadrie said. “ I didn’t sustain another concussion, but did get a pretty bad headache for about a day, and then it went away.”
After one concussion, any that follow can be that much more serious.
For that reason, Kadrie is going to follow his doctor’s advice and not play football this fall.
While sports are where he sustained the concussion, it has also affected other aspects of Kadrie’s life.
“In school, I could really tell that something wasn’t right all of last year,” Kadrie said. “I just couldn’t concentrate the same. Something was different.”
Concussions are nothing to fool around with, as we have all found out over past several years, as awareness has grown from the professional ranks down to high school.
Thanks to that awareness, Kadrie is doing what he can to limit any chances of him suffering another one in the future.