Valley football coaches are working to prevent concussions

FRESNO, Calif.

In addition to hopefully guiding his players to victory Anthony Gosten will be keeping a close watch on their heads, looking for signs of concussion.

"We're very observant, we see a kid in a game or at practice get dinged or tweaked then we make sure we attend to them and we do a pretty a good job of doing that."

Concussion training is mandatory under state law for all coaches because it is a big problem.

Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Adam Gorra of Central California Children's Hospital says all players are at risk. 75 percent will get at least one concussion, making them susceptible to more.

"In fact it doubles after the first concussion it doubles yet again after the second concussion. So it can have a real cumulative exponential effect."

While coaches and trainers are more aware of the concussion problem than ever one problem is getting players to recognize or even acknowledging they've been hurt.

Dr. Gorra says education needs to involve players as well as coaching staff and parents.

Coach Goston says players today are less likely these days to conceal their injuries to stay in the game.

"They will be honest and tell you if they've gotten dinged, or they are hurt but they still want to play, they are very competitive."

But, if concussion is suspected they are kept off the field and referred to medical treatment.

Many schools are now reducing the opportunity for concussion by limiting hitting in practice, and getting the best helmets money can buy to reduce head injuries. But Dr. Gorra says while helmets can prevent head trauma they are not effective against concussions.

"A special helmet will not help. It's been well documented well studied repeatedly in reproducible studies that show helmets do nothing to prevent concussion."

It's not the collision, but the sudden stop or change in direction of motion that causes the brain, to slam into the inside of the skull, causing damage. And the damage adds up. Dr. Gorra is especially concerned about very young children playing football.

"The younger they start with this kind of full contact game the more at risk they are over a course of a lifetime."

Like those thousands of NFL players, who started young, and have aged, or died well before their time.

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