Guilford High to hold program on concussions

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Jan. 31, 2008

GUILFORD — With awareness of the long-term problems that head injuries can cause student-athletes on the rise, Guilford High School will hold a concussion management program tonight.

The event is primarily aimed at parents, Athletic Director Chip Dorwin said, and is open to the public, not just Guilford residents.

The concussion management program will take place at 7 p.m. in the Guilford High School library.

Dorwin said he does not think the school has seen more concussions in recent years, but knowledge about head injuries has increased.

“I don’t think there are more problems, but I think we’re more aware that a kid may be acting normal but their brain isn’t,” he said. “It used to be where, ‘Can you count backwards from 100 and are your eyes dilated’ and so forth, and they answer all the questions and they say, ‘OK, you’re OK to go.’”

Five years ago, Guilford became the first public school system in the state to require all athletes to take a neurological assessment called ImPACT, which stands for Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.

Students take the test on one of the school’s computers before playing sports to obtain baseline data on brain functioning. Then, if a student suffers a head injury, he or she takes the test again to see if there has been any change.

“You’re able to compare the normal baseline brain function with the post-head injury brain function, and if there is a significant difference, then we know those kids should not go back into competition or practice,” Dorwin said. Depending on turnout, some parents may have the chance to try out the ImPACT software tonight, he added.

A concussion is a problem with the brain’s function that is caused by a blow to the head or shaking of the head, according to ImPACT’s Web site. Symptoms include confusion, forgetfulness, clumsy movements, loss of consciousness, headache and nausea.

Dorwin said that parents sometimes object to their children being asked to sit out, which is one reason to have the informational session.

“(If) there’s a big game coming up, and maybe the kid is looking to play in college and there’s a college coach coming down, and we’re saying, ‘Look, your son can’t play today,’ sometimes they forget the importance of what we’re doing,” he said. “People need to understand that these are serious injuries that, if they aren’t treated properly, could have some pretty serious effects for kids in the future.”

The scheduled speakers for the program are Michael Eldridge, the high school’s trainer; Robert Nolfo, a doctor with Guilford Pediatrics and the school district’s medical adviser; and Mark McCarthy, director of the Elite Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Farmington.

Guilford High School Principal Rick Misenti said the athletic department is “proactive” on informing parents and students about concussions. Misenti, who is in his first year as Guilford’s principal, said that his former schools in Florida did not have any similar concussion programs.

“I think it gives them a first-hand knowledge from qualified physicians to define what a concussion is and what the effects of a concussion can be and the symptoms for a concussion as well,” Misenti said. “It really enables parents to monitor their child’s health away from the school as well.”

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