Concussion rules may have saved teen
HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) – In the past few years, the National Football League has stepped up measures to make sure professional athletes properly heal from concussions and the Michigan High School Athletic Association has followed in their footsteps.
The precautions were heightened as a result of researchers discovering the long term effects of concussions.
High school athletes, suspected of concussions, are sidelined for the rest of the game and not allowed to play again until they’re checked out by a doctor or a medical trainer, said John Johnson, the MHSAA communications director.
Those rules may have possibly saved 17-year-old Brad Smith’s life. He played football for Unity Christian in Hudsonville.
Smith was tackled on September 30, 2011, toward the end of his team’s game against Zeeland East High School.
“I remember the hit clearly,” Smith said. “I was going down, he was coming down on me. He hit me in the side of the head and I blacked out and didn’t remember anything until I was lying on the ground.”
Smith’s head was throbbing, he was suffering from short term memory loss and couldn’t remember where he was, he said.
Smith was almost immediately diagnosed with suffering a concussion, so he sat out the rest of the game. That was the last night he ever played football.
When Smith’s parents took him to a doctor, x-rays revealed he had multiple concussions throughout his life, many before he even started high school. The doctors told him that one more hit could cause brain damage or put him into a coma, he said.
“To think that Brad had that many hits with that many possibilities of concussions and what this last hit could’ve been, really scares me,” his mother, Cherie Smith said.
“I didn’t really know that concussions can build up and keep getting worse and worse,” Brad said.
But, according to medical experts they can and quite often do.
In addition to requiring student-athletes be medically evaluated, the MHSAA’s communication director told 24 Hour News 8, coaches are required to get educated on concussion symptoms.
Brad has a piece of advice for student-athletes participating in any sport:
“If you think you have a concussion, go see your trainer or coach,” he said. “Don’t hold back or be scared.”