Concussion effects highlighted at School Nurse Conference

Carl Voskamp, Victoria College Emergency Medical Services Program coordinator, said concussions can occur even when a child does not lose consciousness.

"When in doubt, wait it out" - That's the message participants in the 18th Annual School Nurse Conference received about student athletes who receive concussions.

Sponsored by Victoria College, Region III and VISD School Health Services, the conference's goal was to improve the quality of school-age student health by increasing the knowledge and skill of registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and others who deal with medical and emotional issues in school-aged children.

Sixty-five nurses from schools through South Texas attended the conference.

Carl Voskamp, Victoria College Emergency Medical Services Program coordinator, reminded the group that before a student can participate in UIL sports, that student has to have a physical examination to establish a baseline.

He cited the Concussion Management Protocol Return to Play, which "should be utilized and documented before an injured player returns to play. Hopefully, we can keep those people from having catastrophic results from a second impact."

Physical rest and mental rest help the brain heal. That means no school or homework but also no computer, texting, video games or TV until symptoms resolve, he said.

"We've got to verify and assess that person and validate that the person has been cleared to return to play," Voskamp added.

The school nurses watched a video about Preston Plevretes, a football player for LaSalle University who suffered a second concussion in a 2005 football game. The video of Plevretes' injury and its consequences can be seen on YouTube by typing in E:60 Second Impact.

Voskamp said mild traumatic brain injury is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to shake. The shaking can cause the brain to not work normally and can result in serious side effects. Concussions occur in 90 percent of traumatic brain injuries.

He said some of the symptoms of a concussion can appear immediately after the injury, while others may not show up for several days. Symptoms may last days, weeks or months, and can sometimes be subtle and not obvious.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated up to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the United States each year. People ages 15-19 sustain more concussions than those in most other age groups, and concussions are more damaging to adolescent brains than to adult brains, according to a story by the Texas Tribune.