The most commonly talked-about danger in playing sports is the risk of concussions, but the LaRue County school system is making efforts to alleviate that concern in its athletics program.
LaRue is using a program called ImPACT concussion Management, where players will take a baseline test online before beginning their particular sport. After getting a concussion, the player will re-take the test until they match his or her original score. This is the second year of the program.
The Hawks’ varsity football team fielded 45 players last season, and two of those suffered concussions in that time frame.
One, who experienced multiple concussions in previous years (not all from football) was given a doctor’s recommendation to stop playing. The other player ended up sitting out “a couple weeks,” according to head coach Josh Jaggers, who was an assistant on the team last season.
“Football’s just like anything … the number of people who get hurt slipping out of the bathtub is astronomical,” he said. “We don’t hear about those who didn’t have a concussion or those who had one and were fine. Diane Sawyer doesn’t say ‘10,000 flights landed safely today.’ We hear about the one that crashed.”
The goal of the ImPACT program is to keep players safely off the field or court until it is safe for them to resume contact and strenuous activity. Although playing in any sport creates the risk of concussions, football has traditionally been the sport most often pointed to when discussing the dangers of head injuries.
LaRue County coaches also have to go through their own training before a season begins. KHSAA requires all coaches to take an online training session that takes approximately four to five hours about how to recognize and treat concussions.
In the constant mission to diminish the number of head injuries in sports, LaRue also has built a relationship with Hardin Memorial Hospital’s sports medicine program. Eric Oliver, the coordinator of the program, was previously the athletic trainer in charge at LaRue sporting events, but this year, the Hawks will welcome a new face.
Kyle Oldham, a 2005 graduate of John Hardin High School, has been a graduate intern of athletic training at Western Kentucky University where he worked with multiple sports teams at the school. Now, he will be the full-time athletic trainer at LaRue County and will work with all sports teams closely in the effort to keep Hawks athletes as healthy as possible.
“Are you going to be able to totally eliminate concussions?” Jaggers said. “No. You can never completely eliminate car wrecks either. What we can do is raise awareness and the education level of people.”