Anthony Carter, 16, of Royal Oak had been playing football injury-free since sixth grade. This past August, that all changed for the junior lineman. During the Royal Oak Ravens preseason 3-way scrimmage, he experienced a concussion. He doesn’t really remember much about how or when it happened.
| Anthony Carter, 16, experienced a concussion during
a preseason scrimmage.
In fact, says Anthony, “I don’t even remember playing the third game.” On the bus ride home his buddies said he wasn’t very social and talking slow. Back at school, he couldn’t find his locker.
He began exhibiting some of the classic concussion symptoms. “I was tired and felt light as a feather,” recalls Anthony. He also had a headache, felt nauseous, experienced balance problems and memory loss.
A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head. In 2011 approximately 2 million U.S. youths experienced a concussion. Returning to play too quickly after this injury can result in serious brain complications.
Thanks to his teammates, trainer and coach; Anthony got the medical attention he needed. Following the scrimmage his parents took him to the Emergency Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. With his physician’s approval, three weeks later he resumed conditioning with the team, and four weeks after his concussion, he resumed full contact.
Back in July, the Royal Oak High School football team participated in a new concussion awareness program presented by Beaumont’s Neuroscience Center of Excellence. Anthony and his teammates not only learned about concussion symptoms, but each took an online concussion baseline screening test.
After Anthony’s concussion, his mother, Yvonne, quickly realized what an important tool the concussion baseline results were to her family and concussion specialist Neal Alpiner, M.D. When he took the same online test at home after his injury, the results were dramatically different.
Says Dr. Alpiner, chief, Pediatric Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak and physician leader of the concussion awareness program, “The online test is an important aid, but the interpretation of the results should be done by a physician who specializes in concussions.”
The baseline test can be used as the comparison for any subsequent testing after an injury. It can serve as an aid in determining whether or not the athlete has fully recovered their cognitive skills back to their baseline level. Cognitive deterioration (indicative of a brain that is still injured) persists longer than other concussion signs and symptoms. A qualified specialist should determine when a student athlete is ready to return to the classroom, practice or competitive play.
Like his teammates, Yvonne also witnessed her son’s slower speech pattern. Dr. Alpiner emphasized rest is the best medicine for a concussion. When Anthony was symptom-free for seven days, the doctor re-examined him.
“As a parent, you want to do the best thing for your child and in this case it was wait. And as his online test results improved, it gave me peace of mind knowing he was on the road to being my old Anthony again,” says Yvonne.
Thanks to a community education grant, Beaumont provides the online tests at no charge. To date, nearly 500 athletes from Royal Oak and Salem high school in Canton have participated in the concussion awareness program.
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