Texas Coaches Stress Concussion Safety

Women's sports just as prone as men's sports to brain injuries

By Mola Lenghi
|  Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012  |  Updated 7:51 PM CDT
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The Texas Girls Coaches Association held their annual conference in Arlington, and on Wednesday they concentrated on concussions and new state laws for all sports.

Mola Lenghi, NBC 5 Arlington Reporter

The Texas Girls Coaches Association held their annual conference in Arlington, and on Wednesday they concentrated on concussions and new state laws for all sports.

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With new state regulations that require all coaches be trained in addressing concussions, attendees at the Texas Girls Coaches Association's annual conference learned about concussions.

Many people may think of full-contact sports such as football, but experts say there doesn't have to be a collision to cause a concussion.

"Even the bull rider that gets shaken up on the bull can get a concussion without hitting his head," said Kenneth Locker, a trainer with the Ben Hogan Sports Medicine center.

"It's often with women's sports, too -- volleyball, basketball," said Kathleen Rodriguez, co-head coach of women's softball at the University of Texas at El Paso. "My All-American catcher last year went head-first into second base and jarred her neck and got a concussion so, yeah, it doesn't have to be a hit."

"The No. 2 reported sport for concussions is girl's soccer so, yes, football is the most just because of the hits that you get, but we're finding now is those sub-concussive hits," Locker said. "The heading -- 14-year-old girls shouldn't be heading the ball. It's the constant hits."

The state prohibits coaches from allowing a player to return to a game or practice and that player must be cleared by a doctor before returning if they show any concussion symptoms. Even after being cleared by a physician, the athlete must pass a series of drills and assessments conducted by the school's sports trainers. The process often takes weeks.

"These are mild-traumatic brain injuries, and it takes longer for children to get over concussions than it does say, Jason Witten with the Cowboys," Locker said.

He said the medical field has come a long way from the days when concussion exams consisted of questions like, "What year is it?" and "How many fingers am I holding up?"

"We've learned more in the last five years than we've ever known," Locker said.

Education is the biggest challenge, he said.

"We need to educate parents that they need to give their kids time to recover," Locker said. "I mean, it's a brain injury -- let them get well."

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