“It’s better to miss one game than the whole season.”
That’s the message that the Centers for Disease Control is sending out to young athletes when it comes to concussions. But perhaps the message should be “Live to play another day.”
One game can change your life forever, or end it. In Washington State, Zackery Lystedt, 13, was injured during a football game. He was hit again on the field, suffering from “second-impact trauma,” and collapsed on the field. Zack spent the next three months in a coma.
In Washington, the Lystedt Law attempts to protect young athletes from returning to a game too soon by requiring written permission from a medical professional before an injured athlete can return to the game.
Some of those same requirements are being used right here in Fairmont on the high school and university level in athletics. At East Fairmont High School, athletes are able to participate in testing designed to provide a baseline of knowledge in an athlete, and then can re-take the test after getting a concussion and throughout recovery to help trainers measure how they are doing.
Through ImPACT, which stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, coaches, trainers and athletes are also armed with information on how to identify a concussion on the sidelines to prevent any further damage to the brain. The same system is used at Fairmont State University with a great deal of success.
We commend these schools for directly dealing with this issue and encourage others to participate on every athletic level, from youth recreational teams to competitive collegiate leagues. Because a concussion isn’t just an immediate threat. Like 13-year-old Zack, if athletes refuse to talk to their coaches and trainers about a head injury in the middle of a game, a second injury could cause extreme swelling, bleeding and sudden death in an athlete.
In addition to that, chronic and repeated head injuries can cause long-term brain damage, which changes personalities, causes aggressiveness and creates gaps in function, memory and knowledge.
We’ve built bigger, better athletes. Look at the linemen of the 1920s — the “leather heads” — versus the massive linemen of today’s NFL. We’ve replaced the leather “helmets” with state-of-the-art armor for the shoulders, legs and heads. But nothing, not even the best helmet money can buy, can truly protect the brain tissue inside the skull. In fact, the stronger the helmet, the stronger the hit. The more you protect an athlete, the more vulnerable he is.
No one is advocating ending impact sports. And the NFL has certainly identified the issues of brain trauma, whether it be because of a class-action lawsuit or human decency, and has started to fine players for certain kinds of hits.
Considering the amount of money these athletes make to take down their opponent, you have to ask whether punitive measures are effective.
In fact, you just have to ask what can be done in the long run to stop the trauma, from soccer to football and from cheering to softball.
We can’t accept the old-school mentality of concussions as “just part of the game.” They’re not. They are potentially exposing our children to a lifetime struggle if they continue with athletics and repeated head injuries.
We’ve come so far in identifying the problem. Now we have to identify some solutions.
“It’s better to miss one game than the whole season.”
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
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