HOWARD — Unlike in years past, today’s high school coaches like East Knox basketball coach Don McDaniel undergo specific training to spot the first signs of concussion.
When junior Demitrius Susi, one of the young players on the Bulldogs, took a nasty spill in Tuesday evening’s game against visiting Northmor, McDaniel pulled him from the game immediately. Susi clearly showed concussion-like symptoms as he was helped off the court, before being taken to the emergency room.
“My heart just sinks when I see a kid go down like that. As much publicity as concussions get nowadays and the things we see from them — it just scares me to death,” said McDaniel. “I love this game. I’m very passionate about this game. We hate losing but I never want to see one of my kids get hurt.”
Decisions relevant to sports medicine staff at games are local school decisions and are not covered in state law or OHSAA regulations. Many schools, like East Knox, can afford to hire an athletic trainer to be on hand at varsity games to help assess such injuries. There are some schools, however, that are not as fortunate. The OHSAA has been a great information resource for all schools.
“The OHSAA has been a great resource for us regarding concussion protocol and return to play standards,” said East Knox athletic director Derick Busenburg. “All of our coaches have taken a sports medicine class where they spend time learning the signs and symptoms a student-athlete may exhibit if they have suffered a concussion. Some of the symptoms that our coaches are looking for include loss of consciousness, confusion, balance problems, memory problems, personality changes, sensitivity to light and noise, and nausea.”
The OHSAA guidelines have helped coaches become a vital link in the initial concussion management process.
“If a student exhibits any signs of a concussion it is the coach’s responsibility to ensure that the student does not return to play, their parents are notified, and the student is referred to a medical professional,” explained Busenburg. “Our coaches are not trained to determine whether or not a student has sustained a concussion. They are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion and then take the appropriate steps. If a licensed trainer is on site, then these situations are always handed over to them.”
Susi is now taking the first steps on the road to recovery and will not return to play until he is medically cleared to do so.