Monday June 25th, 2018 3:36PM

Local schools, coaches combat concussion problems as football season nears

By Brian Stewart Reporter
  Contact Editor

GAINESVILLE—Football season is just around the corner, and with it comes the uptick in concussions associated with the hard-hitting sport.

In Gwinnett County, the schools will host a "Baseline Testing Day" Saturday, Aug. 15 at 19 high schools that is free and open to anybody 12 years or older, though registration is required.

"The purpose of this is to bring awareness to what a concussion actually is, (and) to understand what this 'baseline test' does for you," said Kelly Anderson, Certified Athletic Trainer at Concussion Institute at Gwinnett Medical Center.

Participants will take a neuro-cognitive test on a computer to measure their brain function prior to any injury. Anderson said oftentimes, it becomes clear when an athlete has suffered a concussion.

"If an athlete, a coach (or) a teammate suspects that an athlete has suffered a concussion, one of the things that you'll notice is that they just don't seem right," said Anderson.

This often includes what parents or coaches' might describe as an athlete appearing "out of it" or complaining of a headache.

Gainesville High School head football coach Bruce Miller said he trusts his training staff's ability to diagnose injuries, even if that means telling a star player that he has to sit out.

"You've still got a young man's life in your hands ... You just try to make decisions (about) what's best for him," said Miller.

Jesse Sandlin, Head Athletic Trainer at Gainesville High, said it's a "holistic approach" when it comes to preventing concussions with their athletes.

"Where you want to start from a preventative side is teaching the athlete the proper way to tackle. Now, you're always going to have the case where it just happens. All concussions are not preventable," said Sandlin.

Equipment, too, can play a role in preventing concussions.

"(Coaches) make sure the helmets are properly fitted, the foaming and padding inside the helmets is in good working order. And that goes a long way because if the helmet is too big or too small, it can definitely play a role in concussions," said Sandlin.

Hopefully, Sandlin said, concussions can be completely preventable in the future.

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