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Cautious steps taken to prevent concussions

On December 6, 2012


Saying that you might receive a head injury when you are playing football is like saying that you might step in a puddle if it is raining outside. The next time you find yourself watching an NFL game, be sure to notice how many helmet-to-helmet hits you see. Besides being illegal, these direct contact hits are the quickest way for any player to get a concussion.

According to WebMD, a concussion is defined as a traumatic injury to soft tissue, usually to the brain, as a result of a violent blow, shaking or spinning. Like most college athletes, sophomore running back Keshaudas Spence is fully aware of these risks, especially when he is playing a game as physical as football.

“There’s only so much you can do to stop somebody from getting a concussion,” said Spence. “Every game there is going to be a bad hit, we see it every week.”

Unlike most young athletes today, Spence is just as dedicated to playing football as he is to understanding the safety precautions that are involved in football. These safety precautions are used to help decrease the likelihood of concussions among other injuries and are becoming more crucial every year, even at Sacred Heart University.

“We take all the proper steps to insure that they are not causing unnecessary damage to themselves,” said Ben Batchelder, the senior assistant athletic trainer here at Sacred Heart.

Batchelder is responsible for making sure that all incoming freshman athletes receive the standard baseline testing. Baseline tests are mandatory and are required by the NCAA for all collegiate athletes.

These tests involve different memory skills and a variety of cognitive function examinations. The tests help athletic trainers, such as Batchelder, all across the country in decreasing the negative effects that can come from concussions.

“We have to follow this plan every time a concussion occurs.” said Batchelder. “We want to make sure the athletes don’t try to return to competition before they are ready, because that is where the most damage can be done, after the concussion.”

There is a lot of work that goes into insuring that athletes will be as safe as possible when competing, however, some may argue that there is too much being done and it is taking away from the excitement of the actual sport.

“Some of the rules in pro football are going a little overboard,” said Paul Link, a senior offensive lineman on the Sacred Heart football team. “Yes you want the guys to be safe, but at the same time you don’t want to restrict their abilities.”

Batchelder understands why athletes feel this way, but at the same time he also understands the permanent damage concussions among other injuries can cause to athletes, especially at the professional level.

“I think the new rules in professional football will ultimately help to lower the frequency of concussions,” said Batchelder. “But right now I don’t think they are helping because of the way the kids were always taught how to hit.”

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