“Right after the hit, I felt a little bit uneasy, but I felt like I was good to go. I think I might have had a little bit of a headache.”
“…If a player suffers an injury to the head, he or she will be required to re-take the test and if the scores don’t match up to the baseline established pre-injury, the athlete won’t be seeing the playing field anytime soon…”
From his “little kids” days at recess, to his years as a punishing fullback in Wilton High’s football program, to the successful squads he always played for in the town and school’s lacrosse programs, if contact was to be had, Kozlowski would find it.
As the end of his senior year approached, though, Kozlowski finally received the hit of his young life; a blind-side, pancake check thrown by a Darien player during the FCIAC tournament last spring.
Dazed and confused, Kozlowski got to his feet and stumbled off the field.
“I just got my bell rung,” said Kozlowski, now a freshman football player and lacrosse player at Denison College in Ohio. “Right after the hit, I felt a little bit uneasy, but I felt like I was good to go. I think I might have had a little bit of a headache.”
Kozlowski wasn’t just a “Warrior” on the field that day. He was also a warrior and he returned to the field, facing more punishing hits. It was a physical game the Blue Wave finally won, but following the contest lacrosse coach Paul McNulty suggested Kozlowski not drive home that night, instead urging him to call his parents for a ride.
This year, however, athletes like Kozlowski might find it far more difficult to find their way back into a game after taking such a hard hit.
The Wilton High athletic department — with help from the Wilton Sports Council — has purchased some software to help its trainers deal with head injuries in athletes.
The ImPact Concussion Software — which stands for Immediate Post-Concusssion Assessment and Cognitive Testing — has made its way into a number of different FCIAC schools, with Wilton being just the latest.
“It’s a great idea, absolutely fantastic,” said Wilton athletic director Christy Hayes. “I’ve had kids in the past who have had concussions and you kind of had to take their word for how they felt. Kids want to play and be macho, so they say they feel better. As a kid, I probably would have tried to play.”
The ImPact software, however, takes such guessing games out of play, according to Wilton athletic trainer Cortney Tyszka.
The software is set up like a 10-part video game and it establishes a baseline for the student-athlete, measuring parts of the brain through memory assessment, reaction time, concentration and speed.
If a player suffers an injury to the head, he or she will be required to re-take the test and if the scores don’t match up to the baseline established pre-injury, the athlete won’t be seeing the playing field anytime soon.
“Kids being kids, they’re not going to be as honest as they can be,” said Tyszka, who is in her third year at Wilton and seventh as a certified athletic trainer. “Now we have data to help us show what’s going on.”
Every player in the school’s hard-hitting football program was pre-tested before the season started.
“It’s been put to good use already this season,” Tyszka said.
While the football team was the only team to be tested in the fall, the school hopes to get all of its athletes tested in the coming years.
For the winter season, girls basketball, boys and girls hockey and wrestling will be tested, as well.
The purchase of the software, which cost $500 — or about $1 per test given — was paid for by the Wilton Sports Council.
Dick Sullivan, president of the Wilton Sports Council, is also a parent of athletes and fully supports the idea of the program being in the Wilton schools.
“We really want to do all the athletes,” Sullivan said. “We just think it’s something important. It’s recommended by the CIAC and I think all the high schools are going to end up using it.”
Kozlowski actually got a first-hand look at the software this fall because Denison uses it to protect its student-athletes.
“It’s really accurate,” Kozlowski said. “I think the thing with it is if you’re shaken up at all, it’s going to say in some way that something’s a little screwy. But it’s the safe thing to do. You can’t really harp on it too much.”
As far as Wilton High goes, that’s the whole point — being safe and keeping its athletes safe.
In the school’s training room, Tyszka has a clipping from a North Carolina newspaper about a high school athlete who died after suffering multiple head injuries. This fall, even closer to home in New Jersey, another football player collapsed and died.
“We preach stories about head injuries to the kids,” she said. “I think in a way they’re starting to realize it could happen to them. It’s in the media a lot as far as severe consequences if they go back too soon. It’s scaring them a little bit.”
And for the Warrior who wants to be a warrior and get back onto the playing field a little early, it may no longer be in the numbers for them to do that.
Can I get a demo of the ImPACT program?
Yes, contact Doug Tauchen at 1.800.942.8632 to receive a demo.Who do I call for more information?
Labiba Russo, Director of Sales & Marketing, 1.877.646.7991What is the cost of Sideline ImPACT?
$100/year – High Schools; $150/year – Colleges/Universities; $150/year – Professional