Concussion prevention: Not all schools equal
Two former Tennessee Volunteers filed a federal lawsuit in Chattanooga Wednesday against the NCAA, saying it failed to educate them about the risks of concussions.
Chris Walker and Ben Martin, who played for Tennessee from 2007-2011, say the NCAA did not do enough to prevent, diagnose, and treat brain injuries.
The lawsuit is just the latest in the debate about concussions on the football field. Channel 3 took a look at what's being done on the local level to keep young players safe.
You may be surprised to learn, not all schools are created equal, when it comes to concussion prevention.
When the Eagles take the field, Scott Bruce is keeping a bird's eye view.
"I'm looking for hard hits, kids getting hit, hitting their head. I'm looking for how they get up, how they act," said Scott Bruce, Chattanooga Concussion Prevention Initiative.
He's looking for signs of a concussion, a risk that comes with any impact sport.
"We had one young man last year who just happened to walk past us and we overheard him say I think I blacked out. It was like wow. We went over and we started checking him. Yep, he had had a concussion," said Bruce.
The majority of Hamilton County Schools have someone like Scott Bruce, a Certified Athletic Trainer, on the sidelines looking for symptoms of concussions.
They work with players and coaches to ensure no one returns to the field too early.
But not all schools have a trainer. In fact, Bruce says 7 Hamilton County Schools do not, 6 of those schools have football programs.
"It falls probably to the coaches and to the parents," said Bruce.
Bruce worries about safety when two schools without a trainer compete.
"Because there is no coverage. You have no idea who is there to provide medical coverage for them. And it's not just football. What about soccer, or wrestling, basketball," said Bruce.
He says the burden is on parents to know their players, the symptoms of a concussion, and when to seek medical attention.
Because while concussions are nothing new, the research on how to prevent and treat them is.
"It's changed big time," said Bruce.
Having a trainer on staff comes down to funding. It's not a position that is built into every budget, and there is no question a program with a bigger booster program has more money to work with, freeing up county dollars to pay for safety on the sidelines.
Another example, guardian caps, padded caps worn over the helmet to help prevent concussions.
Baylor and Boyd-Buchanan are two teams in our area able to afford that added protection.
There are several ways to recognize symptoms of a concussion. They include headache, blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light, or having no energy.
Some of these symptoms may appear right away, while others may take weeks to appear. Bruce says the latest research shows it can take 7 to 21 days to recover from a concussion.