August 27, 2014: As school starts it marks the start of the high school football season. With that comes the concern over player safety and the risk of concussion. Medical data shows high school players are especially vulnerable to hits to the head, but thanks to a broader focus on the cause and signs of concussions the sports medicine industry is making progress on player safety. McDowell High School's Head Athletic Trainer, Paul Endres, has been a certified trainer for 21 years. He has seen his share of concussions, but he's also seen the impact of newer preventative measures. For instance, a newer padded helmet, it provides better all around protection, softening the blow on helmet to helmet contact. Of course contact is unavoidable in a sport like football, but using one of these helmets, along with proper fitting shoulder pads and neck strengthening exercises could lower your risk of a concussion. And as with any physical activity, use common sense. While there is only so much that can be done to prevent a concussion on the field, once a concussion does occur, its about getting the right assessment and treatment to get back on the field. At the Concussion Clinic at the LECOM's Wellness Center, Dr. Patrick Leary and his staff evaluate concussion patients by testing their balance on the Biodex machine and their memory and spacial orientation to make sure they are fully recovered before returning to play. Leary says there is a lot of work to done when it comes to the game and protecting what players are at risk. Leary says it's not the people who are making the tackles, it's the ones who are being tackled. The defensive back position is the #1 most concussed position. Leary has several recommendations when it comes to preventing concussions in the future including shorter fields, shorter practice sessions, and age and gender considerations.
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