Once a concussion occurs, it's imperative to manage the injury right the first time.
That was among the many tips stressed by OAA Orthopaedics Specialists of Allentown as part of a concussion seminar conducted Thursday in the Palmerton Area High School auditorium.
Palmerton Area School District and the Palmerton Football Parents Club teamed together to sponsor the seminar, which focused on current concepts in concussion management, from injury to return-to-play.
Presentation speakers included Mark Brayford, DO, Medical Director; OAA Orthopaedic Specialists ImPACT Testing Team, Return-to-Play guidelines; and Scot Brayford, MS, OTR/L, PA-C.
Scot Brayford told the crowd of about 30 that concussion epidemiology accounts for the most common head injury, with 1.4 million sustained in the country per year.
Of those, he said about 300,000 are sports-related concussions per year, about 60,000 of which occur in high school sports. About six-percent of cheerleaders will experience a concussion during their cheer career, he said.
Brayford said 90-percent of concussions are mild, with symptoms resolving in less than 10 days.
Among the common misconceptions about concussions are that athletes who sustain them say they are fine, said Brayford, who added that 50-percent of high school football concussions go unreported.
Other misconceptions Brayford alluded to are that the helmet would prevent a concussion; the catscan was negative, so the athlete can be cleared from the concussion; that the emergency room doctor said an athlete could return to play in one week; and that his/her head didn't even get hit, so it can't be a concussion or it shouldn't take long to recover; and he/she didn't have a loss of consciousness.
Brayford then mentioned the Lystedt Law that was enacted by the state on Oct. 6 of last year. At the time, Pennsylvania became the 30th state to adopt the legislation, he said.
Some of the highlights of the legislation, Brayford said, are that it provides education materials for parents; information meeting with parents in the preseason; mandates removal from an athletic contest on the day of injury; and coaches will have a concussion course once a year.
Mark Brayford then discussed the benefits of baseline testing, and made mention of Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT).
Brayford said ImPACT testing is a neurocognitive test offered by OAA in partnership with high school coaches and athletic directors developed for the management of sports-related concussions that tests athletes for sports-related concussions free of charge.
"We're not doing it to make money," he said. "We're doing it to save kids brains."
Two years ago, the district entered into the ImPACT program, which is a computer-based program administered by OAA's ImPACT-certified staff.
The ImPACT testing is a 20-30 minute computer-based test performed at high schools to determine a child's regular brain function, Brayford said. In the event of a concussion, the test allows a comparison of the post-concussion brain function of the athlete, he said.
Brayford said the baseline test is used to objectively evaluate the concussed athlete's postinjury condition and track recovery for safe return to play, thus preventing the cumulative effects of concussion.
Before the athlete's post-concussion release to participate in sports, the athlete's neurocognitive function would need to return to these baseline scores, he said.
If the athlete doesn't sustain a concussion, then there are no follow-up tests, Brayford said. Once the athlete sustains a concussion, he/she would be evaluated by either a team physician or a member of OAA's ImPACT-certified staff, he said.
Once an athlete is symptom-free, arrangements are made for a postinjury impact test. The test, along with physical exam findings, determine the athlete's ability to safely return to sports participation, Brayford said.
Brayford said current hot topics include petscans; functional MRI; migraine relationship; postinjury rehabilitation; mainstream media's understanding; and oral medication treatments.
He said OAA will hold its yearly concussion seminar from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest campus.
After the presentation, a brief question and answer session then followed.
A second program was held Friday that was directed toward the district's teaching staff.