By Bryan Navarro
MEDFORD, Ore. — On the fields and in the gyms at the local level coaches of all sports are stepping up their training to recognize concussions. It’s partially in response to more parents concerns and it’s a legal requirement.
It’s early summer, but football is up and running at South Medford High School; coaches at every level, all the way down to Pop Warner, are taking extra steps to keep young athletes safe.
A state requirement called Max’s Law has been in effect since the 2010-11 school year, requiring all high school coaches to take yearly training to recognize concussions. OSAA gives out information about signs, symptoms, treatment, and a plan for eventually returning to play; that includes sending injured students to medical professionals for follow up help.
Some, but not all, districts pay for a computerized test called impact. Every athlete takes the cognitive test that gets a baseline measurement. If they suffer a big hit, they’re taken out of the game and sidelined for about a week or until they pass the test again.
South Medford Athletic Director Dennis Murphy says 10 years ago when he was coaching, if a player got hurt, he’d ask, ‘how you feeling, how many fingers am I holding up? Okay, get back out’ – that’s no more. He says last weekend, a basketball player hit the floor hard, and his first thought was: is it a concussion?
South Medford saw about anywhere from a half dozen concussions last year, spread out through games and practice; three in football and at least one in women’s soccer, and baseball.