Students Help Coaches Understand Concussions
FSC senior Megan Moore gives a PowerPoint presentation to Lakeland Christian School football coaches and administrators about concussions. She was part of a faculty-student collaboration project with Athletic Training Professor Sue Stanley-Green.
In the shimmering August heat, the Lakeland Christian School football team is running through a morning practice session. One player gets hit hard, knocking his chin strap up around his nose, and goes down. Two Florida Southern students, acting as athletic trainers for the team, are immediately at his side and pull him aside to check for symptoms of concussion.
The students, Amber Whitney and Megan Moore, are there through a contract arrangement between Lakeland Christian and Florida Southern that gives them on-field clinical experience, a requirement for all Athletic Training Education majors. But they are also participating in a research project on concussions in athletic competition, working with Sue Stanley-Green, Associate Professor of Athletic Training and Director of the Athletic Training Education program.
FSC junior Amber Whitney administers a computer-based test to Lakeland Christian School football players that indicates signs of concussion. She was part of a faculty-student collaboration project with Athletic Training Professor Sue Stanley-Green.
Whitney and Moore applied for a grant from FSC’s Faculty-Student Collaboration program, administered by the office of Dr. Mary Crowe, Associate Provost for Experiential Education, which allowed them to spend time over the summer reading published studies on concussions. Then, once football practice got underway at Lakeland Christian, Whitney and Moore conducted computer-based testing on the players to assess them for signs of concussion.
Stanley-Green has several students assisting her each year as athletic trainers at Lakeland Christian School. The hands-on experience has been invaluable for her students, she said.
In recent years there has been a lot more attention given to concussions in athletes, especially in contact sports such as football, hockey, and soccer. A number of former NFL players have suffered debilitating and life-threatening conditions and even committed suicide as a result of concussions received on the field. And awareness is growing of how common the injury is among high school athletes. Several Lakeland Christian football players received concussions last season, and school leaders realized they needed a protocol to help coaches know how to deal with it.
“Amber and Megan really got interested in that. So they submitted a proposal and got the grant. They reviewed the literature on concussions and created a package of information for the coaches,” Stanley-Green said.
The students also obtained access to the computer assessment program, ImPACT, which tests an athlete’s cognition and reaction. Players were tested before preseason practice began to give a baseline reading. The objective testing overcomes the objections of players, who may show some signs of concussion but insist on trying to play or practice. It also relieves coaches from having to make decisions about whether a student is ready to play.
“It’s given me a lot more insight into how to deal with concussions. The players might lie to us so they can go play, but they can’t fool the computer,” said Whitney, a junior at FSC.
Moore, a senior who wants to enroll in a physical therapy program after graduation, said the project and the clinical experience has been important for her future plans.
“It’s hands-on experience in the age group I want to work with,” she said.
Whitney said Stanley-Green’s help was invaluable in completing the project.
“Parts of the research, we read it a million times and didn’t get it. She’ll put it a different way, and it makes sense. She’s been at it so long, she knows what she’s doing,” she said.