GC tracking concussions differently in modern era
GC midfielder Becca Morris has suffered two concussions during her time as a Bobcat and an estimated five in her entire soccer career. Last fall, Morris experienced a scary concussion where she collided with a teammate.
“I was going up for a header, and my teammate was also going up for a header,” Morris said. “She was going backwards as I was going forwards, and our heads just collided. It was scary because I had no idea what was going on.
The most recent edition of the NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook doesn’t require colleges to track concussions. But Paul Higgs, GC’s former head athletic trainer, said injury documentation is of the utmost importance to the university.
“In the 20 years I have been at GC, we have gone from paper/pen documentation to online electronic healthcare records,” Higgs said.
GC switched to a new injury evaluation system in January to ensure it maintains a quality standard of care for student athletes. This system allows the university to document injuries, rehab sessions and treatments.
Higgs said he is satisfied with GC’s concussion management and documentation.
“I think we are doing well here because we do what we should do to stay on top of it,” Higgs said. “We treat concussions the same way we treat any other injury: identifying the cause, limiting the scope of the injury and the chance of re-injury, while protecting the athlete and providing an optimal environment for healing.”
Proper care ensures that student athletes return to full-form.
“Many stories are written about concussions, and they can be very serious,” Higgs said. “Often the worst-case scenarios make the media. But the majority of athletes suffering from a concussion can eventually return to full activity with minimal complications if the injury is cared for properly.”
GC soccer coach Hope Clark emphasized the unpredictability of concussions.
“They happen in so many different ways,” Clark said. “We’ve had it where they’ve [players] been in close range, someone strikes the ball, and it hammers them.”
Each new concussion brings new levels of caution and concern.
“I definitely take them [concussions] more seriously because the symptoms get worse as you get more,” Morris said.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the brain produces more of a protein, tau, after severe, sports-related concussions. In a study conducted by an NIH-led research team, scientists measured tau levels in 632 college athletes. According to the findings, tau levels may indicate when athletes should return to the field.
Photo by Emily Bryant | Digital Media Editor