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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Local Doctor Helps Prevent Concussions in Student-Athletes

DOVER, Del.-  In the old days, athletes talked about "getting their bell rung or "seeing stars!" Now it is important to get tested and see a doctor. Bigger, faster and stronger athletes are suffering serious head injures at an alarming rate.  How do you make sure he or she stays safe from potential concussions and head injuries?

To help stem a recent rise in concussions and ensure the safety of high school athletes, Bayhealth Medical Center neurosurgeon Dr. James Mills is providing "baseline testing" for student athletes at Polytech and Caesar Rodney high schools.  
"We are testing 600 students in all," he said. "The 'baseline' is a half-hour computer test which measures the memory and cognition of the student athlete.  The baseline test score will be a valuable frame of reference in comparing against the same student athlete's test score after he or she suffers a potential concussion."
Mills said gauging subtle changes in memory is a valuable tool in a physician's toolbox in assessing whether a patient has suffered a concussion.  By ensuring the most accurate diagnosis, doctors can help ensure the safety of the patient.  

According to Mills, concussions may happen in a wide variety of sports, not just in football. Getting hit by a pitch in baseball, colliding with another basketball player on the court, or incorrectly ‘heading' a soccer ball may all be scenarios where a concussion is possible.  In fact, Mills said, girls' soccer has one of the highest concussion rates.
"Students are mimicking what they see on television when it comes to sports. They are playing very aggressively and violently. This can be very dangerous and result in dangerous injuries," Mills said.
He said preventing serious brain injuries is vital for student athletes and their families.  Whenever there is a doubt about a possible concussion, we take the athletes off the field to ensure their safety.

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