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Maine School Seeks to Protect Student Athletes from Concussions

soccer sxchu.jpgAfter several student athletes suffered concussions at Mattanawcook Academy, the high school, in cooperation with Penobscot Valley Hospital of Lincoln, enrolled in the Maine Concussion Management Initiative. The initiative uses a computerized program to test the neurocognitive functioning of student athletes in order to create a baseline. The Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) measures an individual’s memory and reaction time. If a student later sustains a possible concussion, the ImPACT test is administered again and compared with the baseline exam. The ImPACT test allows doctors to measure any loss of brain function after a head injury. The test also allows physicians to measure the level and speed at which brain function is recovered following a concussion.

The Maine Concussion Management Initiative was created about five years ago by a Portland orthopedist, Dr. William Heinz, and the Director of Health Services at Colby College, Dr. Paul Berkner. The Initiative was created in response to the high rate of long-term head injuries sustained by many National Football League players as well as the fact that the effect of many of the players’ brain injuries did not surface until decades later. A recent study found that former professional football players were three times more likely to suffer from a neurodegenerative condition than the general population. Additionally, retired players are four times more likely to be diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Dr. Carl Alessi, a family physician at Penobscot Valley Hospital oversees the initiative and said an athlete in any sporting event can potentially suffer a concussion. Dr. Alessi stated student athletes at Mattanawcook Academy who receive a concussion will not be allowed to continue to participate in any sporting events or practices until their post-head injury ImPACT results match their baseline test results. According to Dr. Alessi, this is a dramatic change from past practices that normally allowed a student athlete to resume play so long as the athlete knew their own name and where they were despite oftentimes sustaining an invisible brain injury.

Mattanawcook Academy’s Athletic Director and Assistant Principal, Rick Meyers, reportedly advocated for the school to become involved in the the Maine Concussion Management Initiative this year. This was partly in response to a new law signed by Governor Paul LePage in May. The law requires all Maine high schools to create and implement a head injury policy and management plan within one year. Under the new law, students who suffer a brain trauma cannot resume sporting activities without a signed consent from a doctor. Maine is now one of 30 states with such a law on the books.

Unfortunately, the brain may be injured in any accident. A head injury can vary from a mild concussion to a severe and life-threatening trauma. A concussion or other brain injury may limit a victim’s daily activities, cause disability, or even result in death. A concussion occurs when a trauma to the head causes the brain to move inside the skull and any incident of head trauma can potentially result in a concussion. The symptoms of a concussion are not always readily apparent. Even if the victim of a concussion or other head trauma does not lose consciousness, he or she may still suffer from a lifelong and debilitating injury. If you suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury, you should contact a skilled Maine personal injury attorney as soon as you are able.

If you were the victim of a traumatic brain injury, contact the experienced Maine personal injury lawyers at Briggs & Wholey today. The attorneys at Briggs & Wholey have more than 25 years of experience helping those injured in a motor vehicle or other accident receive the compensation they deserve based upon the extent of their injuries. At Briggs & Wholey, our skilled team of lawyers is available to represent the victims of an unexpected brain or other injury throughout Maine. For a free, confidential consultation, call Briggs & Wholey toll free at (888) 596-1099 or contact our capable lawyers through our website.

More Blog Posts:

A Day on the Water Can End in Disaster if Involved in a Boating Accident, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, September 8, 2012
Work Zone Safety Reminders for Safe Summer Travel, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, September 7, 2012
Additional Resources:

Maine high schools tackle athletes’ head injuries, by Nick Sambides Jr., Maine Sun Journal

Photo credit: theo1krie, Stock.xchng