Local football coach talks safety when it comes to concussions

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- High Schoolfootball has finally arrived and many players in Region 8 will be taking some hard hits to the head, which brings up the question of safety.

Last week the NFL awarded formerplayers and spouses a settlement for $765 million dollars after a concussionlawsuit .

JonesboroHigh School football coach Randy Coleman said they have a five step protocol in place if aplayer gets a head injury.

"It'sbasically a gradual progression back into being able to play again. Starts withlight work, no helmet, no pads then followed up by a little bit heavierstrenuous work," Coleman said.

By the fifthday if the player no longer has any symptoms, they can returns to the field. Hesaid he is grateful to have a trainer on the field to help with those types ofinjuries.

"A lot oftimes the coach as competitive as we get we want to return that guy to play asfast as possible," he said.

He said thenew helmets offer a lot more protection to the players.

"We aregetting top of the line helmets that are providing our kids with the best preventionof any type of head injury," Coleman said. "The padding has gotten softer, they have takenpadding from fighter pilots helmets and incorporated them into themanufacturing of the helmets."

Players arealso banned from making certain hits during the game.

"No leadingwith the crown of the helmet, try to keep your eyes up when you hit. You want tomake sure at all possible you lead with the shoulder," he said.

Dr. DanJohnson is a neuropsychologist and has been consulted by Arkansas State University and area highschools when it comes to concussions.

"Peoplesometimes make the mistake thinking that concussions are only loss ofconsciousness and that's not necessarily true," Johnson said. "Impactoriented concussions, the force of impact on the brain causes the brain toshift."

He saidthere are a wide range of symptoms that go along with having a concussion.

"Ringingears, headaches, nausea, disorientation, gate instability, sensitivity tolight, sensitivity to sound," he said.

Coleman saidthey take all the necessary steps to make sure the players have a safe andhealthy season.

"Everythingis about making sure the young men who play this game have a great and healthyfuture," he said.

Dr. Johnsonsaid the ability to identify concussion symptoms have come a long way. It'simportant for players to take time to heal before going back on the field.

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