Concussions Affecting H-DN League
Awareness about head injuries in football is growing across the country, including in the Humboldt-Del Norte League.
Every Friday night, there is a lot of excitement for high school football and the big hits. But with each knock comes the chance of a concussion.
Earlier this season, McKinleyville quarterback Kenton Johnson suffered a major blow to his head. He was diagnosed with a concussion by his trainer.
" I don’ t remember the hit," says Johnson.
The Panthers trainer, Jenni Ludtke, says, "We ran out there, because you don't know if it's a concussion or an knee injury...you've just got to be ready to be out there if someone's not getting up."
The California Interscholastic Federation has put new rules into affect this season regarding concussions. Now if a player is diagnosed with a concussion, he must not return to action that day and cannot play without the signature of a physician.
"This is a good start," says Dr. Sergio Rivero, a Neurosurgeon at St. Joseph hospital. "The thing is, to diagnose a concussion, you have to have qualified people to say this is a concussion."
Dr. Rivero also examined a game helmet to see if it properly protects the players.
"There are newer paddings, that are made with materials that they use for the spaceship, they are better...these pads (in this helmet) are a little tough."
This season, already 8 players in the Humboldt Del Norte League have suffered a concussion.
The rule change helps..but is it the answer? What about schools like Ferndale and Hoopa, that can’ t afford to have a trainer on the sidelines?
Ferndale head coach, Kim Joregensen says, "Any time you get a concussion, you need to make sure you check it out and take a doctor's advice on what you need to do from there. I think the doctor knows more than I do. I know that."
In Kenton Johnson's case, he was knocked unconcious for ten seconds. A trainer took him out of the game and he missed one week of action.
Johnson recalls, "I wasn't thinking about health effects. I didn't have any headaches. I didn't have any real symptoms. I passed a test she gave me on the sideline but I was just mad that I didn't get to play."
Football is a contact sport. Full of bigger, faster and stronger players and concussions will always be a part of the game. But athletes still need to find a way to protect themselves.