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Concussions Hitting Ohio Students, Legislators

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“I was playing basketball and one of my teammates stole the ball. I sprinted down the court and was thrown the ball. I caught it and this really big girl of the opposing team thought it would be amazing to elbow me hard enough in the ribs for me to go flying towards the bleachers. I hit the bleachers real hard with my back, but my head took a huge beating on the wooden floors.”

Ohio University student Karli Bell ’s story is one of up to the reported 3.8 million concussion cases last year.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Concussions are injuries to the brain after a traumatic event such as a bump, blow or jolt.”

Students like Bell are the reasons behind Ohio House Bill 143, which makes it mandatory for a coach to pull students from games and practices if they are showing any concussion symptoms, which include headaches, diminished alertness and blurred vision.

But for students who suffer these injuries, the effects can be far more wide-reaching.

“I could barely focus on my work, because my head would be pounding constantly,” said Bell. “I was also on a lot of painkillers for my back as well, along with a constant headache. I was loopy out of my mind. It was a hassle to get my grades back up.”

However, according to Medina School District Athletic Director Jim Harrison, for many schools (Medina included) this legislation is more of a formality.

“Be it a 7th grade volleyball player or the star quarterback of the high school football team, they are treated with equal amounts of seriousness,” Harrison said. “Safety is our main priority.”

In some situations, though, students can use the threat of injury to their advantage.

According to Buckeye Valley football coach David Godsil, “Some athletes during two-a-days in August can complain of a headache just to get off the field because they are tired.”

Legislation is not the only way that Ohioans are trying to protect young athletes.

According to Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon Dr. Edward Benzel, sports-equipment company Rawlins is collaborating with Cleveland Clinic to create a helmet that would try and further prevent concussions as well as other head and neck injuries.

“Current standards for helmet design [are] based on the ability of the helmet to prevent skull fractures, but they should be based on the ability to minimize this energy to the brain,” Benzel said.

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