School practices resume with new safety guidelines


More Central Indiana kids are heading back to school today, including those in Perry Township. And schools not back in session have already started their football practices, dealing with record heat and a new law impacting your child's health on the field.

At Center Grove High School, football workouts go on as scheduled, with temperatures reaching the 90's every day. They are doing their part to keep their athletes hydrated with a lot of water stations, and frequent breaks are an important part of that.  But dehydration symptoms also closely resemble those of a concussion.  So it's important for athletes and parents to know what to look for.

"One thing I've noticed with dehydration and concussion," said Center Grove athletic trainer Dave Buccholz, "the athlete comes in after practice complaining of a headache or nausea." His advice to athletes in that situation is to hydrate all day and night, and if in the morning you're still feeling symptoms, then come in for a neurocognitive evaluation.

That evaluation, which tests how quickly and accurately athletes can distinguish shapes and tests their memory, is part of a new awareness about concussions. This all in response to a new state concussion law that took effect this month. High school athletes are required to sit out practice or games if they've had a concussion.

The Center Grove program tests athletes first by checking their response time and memory with a series of questions. Then if that athlete suffers a hit to the head, trainers can test against the baseline responses to compare and potentially identify any problems.

"The student has to buy into it," said Dr. Terry Horner of Methodist Sports Medicine, "because one of the ways we diagnose concussions is symptoms. We can't look at the athlete and see symptoms, they have to tell us."

Medical professionals recommend schools have a physician or trainer on staff who's trained in concussions, so concerned parents may want to check their school's athletic program to learn who is trained to deal with potential problems.

Parents can look for nausea, light-headedness, irritability, and the inability to sleep and concentrate which are all symptoms of a concussion.