“…youths heal more quickly than adults in every area but damage to the brain. And then it takes them seven times longer…”
Locker helps administer the local version of the national ImPACT Concussion Management Program, which is also offered through the Ben Hogan Sports Therapy Institute at Harris Methodist in Fort Worth.
The process is not only cheap, it’s painless. Kids answer on-line questions to establish a baseline result. Once a concussion is suspected, they take the 40-minute test again.
If the results are significantly different, athletes are held out of competition until the tests return to normal.
Maybe you need to understand what constitutes a concussion. You don’t have to get knocked out. You might just “get your bell rung.”
A headache could be a sign. Dizziness. Nausea. Blurred vision. Slurred speech. A dozen symptoms in all.
If symptoms worsen, chances are you need to see a doctor.
Here’s why it’s important: Concussions can cause serious long-term damage to anyone, but kids are particularly susceptible.
Locker says youths heal more quickly than adults in every area but damage to the brain. And then it takes them seven times longer.
The difference helps explain why young people are far more susceptible to something called second impact syndrome, a rare but fatal condition that occurs when victims suffer at least two relatively minor concussions in a short time span.
Among those Locker has benched was a Midlothian football player who has committed to Tennessee. The kid wasn’t happy about it, either.
After a week off, his perspective changed.
“I feel a lot better,” he told Locker.
Hayden Wilson figured something was wrong during a game against Fort Worth All Saints on Sept. 19. A 5-6, 145-pound freshman playing on the Episcopal School of Dallas varsity, Hayden, son of Dallas Cowboys assistant coach Wade Wilson, collided with another player in the first quarter.
By halftime, Hayden had a headache. The glare of the stadium lights bothered him, too.
Fortunately, ESD’s athletic trainer recognized the symptoms and made the proper request.
“Can I have your helmet?”
Wilson didn’t get it back until last week.
In the old days, he might have returned to practice after a few days. But the discrepancy between his tests and his baseline results indicated he wasn’t ready.
“I’m really glad that our school has come on board with this,” said Wilson’s mother, Kathy Troutt. “So many kids want to go right back in, and Hayden was no exception.
“I have to tell him, ‘This is your head we’re talking about.’ ”
Locker has tested 2,400 kids representing 20 clubs and schools. He hopes to reach 4,000 by year’s end.
Organizations can purchase 300 tests for $500. Individuals can buy them for $10.
And it’s not just for football players, either. Frankly, no athlete is immune. A recent study by Major League Baseball showed foul tips off a catcher’s mask can cause concussions.
Don’t get me wrong about sports participation. Both my sons play football and baseball. Watching them gives me as much pleasure as they get from it. But I recognize the possibilities, too.
In 1997, I wrote about a distance runner from Round Rock, Texas, who took up Golden Gloves boxing. In his fourth fight and second in as many days, he collapsed after a shot to his left temple.
His father taped the fight. I watched the video. I saw Dylan Baker crumble to the canvas.
“Fell over dead,” is how his father put it.
The coroner ruled second impact syndrome. The reason their oldest son died was some comfort to his parents when I explained it to them, but not nearly enough.
Now that you know what it means, maybe you understand the importance of Locker’s mission. So far this year, he’s held 16 athletes out of action. Sixteen kids no longer in danger. Here’s hoping he benches a bunch more.
• Headache (especially increasing in intensity*)
• Nausea and vomiting*
• Difference in pupil size from right to left eye or dilated pupils*
• Mental confusion/behavior changes
• Memory loss
• Ringing in ears
• Changes in gait or balance
• Blurry or double vision*
• Slurred speech*
• Noticeable changes in consciousness (difficulty awakening or losing consciousness suddenly)*
• Seizure activity*
• Decreased or irregular pulse or respiration*
*Seek medical attention at the nearest emergency department