February 13, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Parents, Coaches, Youth Sports Volunteers Invited to ConcussionForum at VSU

VALDOSTA -- The number of young children between the ages of 8 and 13 treated in hospital emergency rooms for concussions they received while playing on sports teams has doubled in just a decade. That number has more than doubled in teens, according to a study published in the September 2010 issue of Pediatrics magazine and a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report identified football as the organized sport most commonly associated with concussions. However, Caren M. Walls, an athletic trainer at Valdosta State University, said concussions can occur in any contact or collision sport, including soccer, which continues to gain popularity in the South Georgia area.

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20, in Room 3009 of the Hugh C. Bailey Science Center, VSU Athletic Training and the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission will host a Concussion Forum. Scheduled to discuss the occurrence and management of sports-related concussions are Kelley Mautz of the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission; Dr. Ben Hogan, VSU team physician; Philip Pieplow, Lowndes High School athletic trainer; Russ Hoff, VSU director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer; Walls; Dr. Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the Georgia High School Athletic Association; and Jim Ellis, family advocate with the Georgia Concussion Coalition.

Walls said that the forum is open to anyone from the local community.

“We are especially inviting parents, coaches, and volunteers of youth sports,” she added. “Often there are no medical professionals present at these activities, outside of organized school sports, so we want to help educate the community on what to look for if they suspect a possible concussion and what they need to do.”

A van shuttle service will be available from the P.E. Complex parking lot, located on the corner of Sustella Avenue and Baytree Road, to the Bailey Science Center.

According to the Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation, a concussion is “a temporary alteration in consciousness that occurs immediately after a blow to the head. The condition is the mildest forum of traumatic -- sudden, forceful -- brain injury. However, the cumulative effect of having more than one concussion can be permanently damaging or deadly.”

Concussions range in severity and do not always render the athlete unconscious. Other symptoms include confusion, headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea, slurred speech, and fatigue. Repeated concussions, especially those received before a previous one has healed, can cause permanent brain damage or death.

For more information, please contact Caren M. Walls, VSU athletic trainer, at (229) 333-5848 or cmwalls@valdosta.edu.

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