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Putnam school board discusses concussions

By Kara Moore

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County school officials tackled sports concussions at a Monday meeting.

School board members heard a presentation from chiropractor Tony Erwin that offered an overview of current medical knowledge about causes, symptoms and treatment of concussions in athletes.

The presentation was a preview of information Erwin hopes to get to a wider audience.

"What I'd like to do is offer it to players, parents, coaches, the sports community, people who are going to be active with sports just to give them awareness of the hot topic of concussions," Erwin said. "What's going on, the new information we have -- which is basically blowing all the old stuff out of the water."

Erwin and Dr. John Neville volunteer as the team doctors for the Hurricane High School Redskins. Erwin said he goes to every game and works closely with student athletes who get concussions.

Each of the four high schools has a full-time athletic trainer on staff who attends all practices and games for all the major sports at each high school, Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said.

Hatfield said he believes Putnam is the only county with a full-time certified athletic trainer at each high school, but all schools are required to have them on the field at football games.

In fact state law mandates that only the athletic trainers, not the coaches, can determine when a player who has taken a hard hit can play again.

But Erwin stressed the importance of educating the general public to better recognize concussions.

He said that often other players call his attention to children who show signs of concussion but whom coaches and trainers didn't see take hard hits.

Not all concussions result from helmet-to-helmet hits, he said. In fact many result from body hits that jolt the head and neck. And most concussions don't result in loss of consciousness.

He outlined signs players with concussions will show and that their peers, parents and teachers can watch for.

He also stressed that players with concussion should not play again until they've fully healed. If they take a second hard hit before their brains have recovered, it could be life-threatening.

The board expressed support for Erwin's efforts at public education. Hatfield said that a version of the presentation would be available at all the county's middle and high schools, either by Erwin or the schools' athletic trainers.

The school board meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month at the school system's central office in Winfield. All meetings are open to the public.


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