The Elkin High School football team met Wednesday at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital to participate in a screening tool designed to record a baseline cognitive measurement that will assist in the diagnosis and monitoring of concussions and help make safe decisions for a player’s return to sports.
Mary Blackburn, VPO/chief practice officer at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, said the tool will help in prevention of long-term injury associated with sports-related concussions and also is designed to provide an affordable means of concussion management for athletes.
Blackburn and Medical Staff Development Director Laura Oakes said it is the beginning of a partnering of Elkin City Schools’ athletics with Hugh Chatham Hospital in the implementation of the IMPACT Concussion Management Model.
“We are rapidly moving forward with screening additional teams and schools,” said Blackburn.
She said it is important to take seriously since “your brain is forever.”
Blackburn and Oakes, who led Wednesday’s talk and screening, said the idea emerged after the Physicians Strategy Council met with Elkin team physician and orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Snyder, and neurologist, Dr. Steven Meadows.
In a handout given to athletes and coaches by Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, the concussion management model is characterized by a five-step plan.
Step one involves gathering a preseason baseline and testing, which was the purpose of Wednesday’s gathering; step two indicates a concussion is suspected; step three indicates addressing a post-injury testing and treatment plan; step four addresses whether the athlete is ready for non-contact activity; and finally step five deals with determining whether it is safe for the athlete to return to play sports.
IMPACT features include: measuring players’ symptoms, measuring verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time, reaction time is measured to a 1/100th of a second, comprehensive report information and its storage, and results are stored as a PDF file and can be emailed.
ECS Athletic Director Tony Duncan said, “I think it is a great thing.” Duncan said he was pleased and appreciative the hospital is taking an interest in the safety and prevention areas of athletes’ lives.
Duncan said this year there will be tougher rules in areas of high school football tackling due to safety issues for athletes. He said it is coaches’ and staffs’ responsibility to work to provide safe conditions for athletes.
Head football coach Scott Wood said, “We appreciate this. Anything we can do in the area of safety is a good thing.”
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.