Training helps decrease concussions in high school sports

Tuesday was the first day of fall sports for Fairfax County high schools, where athletic leaders are touting a 40 percent drop in concussions among football players over the past three years.

HERNDON, VA (WUSA9) - The first day of high school fall sports kicked off on August 1 for Fairfax County Public Schools.  

More than 3,000 students are trying out for the county's footballs teams. That's more players than in the NFL. 

The good news, is that playing football in FCPS high schools is getting safer. 

John Reynolds, the administrator for athletic training, says they've seen "some significant declines in injury overall but  specifically concussions across multiple sports, football being one."

RELATED: Top tips to keep your child safe from concussions

Reynolds say FCPS high school football has seen a 40% drop in the number of concussions over the past three years.

Reynolds points to greater awareness, the state's concussion guidelines, which he helped write, and the FCPS policy. It requires extensive training for coaches, and on-line training for students and parents.

South Lakes High School Football Coach Trey Taylor says changes have also been made on the field. 

"They're continuing to refine the techniques. Adopting a lot of rugby techniques that get the head out of the equation," such as using the shoulder tackle, he said.

Football does produce the highest number of concussions, Reynolds says, "but it's important to understand we have more football players that we do in any other sport. We have more football players than there are in the NFL here in Fairfax." 

There are about 3,000 high school football players in Fairfax County, about 2,000 more than in the NFL. 

An important requirement for students is a baseline concussion test which consists of a serious of questions to students. It assesses balance, memory, concentration, problem-solving skills and prior concussion symptoms, as well as other issues.     

The exam is used for a comparison to the following year, or after an apparent concussion.  

The Centers for Disease Control says that children who are over 10 years old and play sports should be tested every year. 

Brain scans for a baseline are not recommended for several reasons. Mainly, they don't pickup or show concussions, according to concussion experts. 

Also, children's brains change as part of development, so identifying changes due to a concussion would be difficult.  

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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