Geneva forum addresses concussions head-on

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 5:32 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Omar Trevino scanned the auditorium at Geneva High School on Monday night and wished he saw more student-athletes at an education presentation called “Concussion Education: From injury to return to play.”

Trevino, a Geneva resident, circled the date on the calendar and made sure to attend the event that included Geneva’s head athletic trainer, Bill Durand, Geneva team physician Dr. Erik Bartel, and Cadence Health’s Dr. Brian Babka. 

Babka and Durand spearheaded the talk that centered on educating parents and student-athletes about concussions, in what still is a very unknown and scary injury. 

Trevino nodded and listened intently as Durand and Babka outlined the steps that both the high school and its athletic staff have taken over the years to better treat concussions. 

It was six years ago that Trevino was playing softball and had a 12-inch ball hit him head on in the temple, causing internal bleeding and head trauma. Trevino is still dealing with symptoms today, hampering his ability to function normally on a daily basis.

“It’s such a personal thing for me and my family – especially because my son plays baseball and football – to be here tonight,” Trevino said. “I think any concussion can be a big deal, but the one I experienced involved bleeding in the brain. Mine happened playing softball, and the doctor told me if he didn’t know what happened, he would have thought I was hit by a truck.”

Injuries to Trevino, along with student-athletes around the country, are bringing the dangers of concussions to public consciousness more than ever before. Preventive measures have vastly improved, but the panel made it known that it is very difficult to try and prevent concussions, much less eliminate them.

So, through a collective effort, the athletic training staff at Geneva has put steps and plans in place to try and deal with concussions as best they can. 

Durand and his staff are at all sporting events that have the highest concussion rates – namely football, soccer, baseball, softball and volleyball. 

Because concussions are so hard to diagnose, all incoming athletes at Geneva must complete the imPACT test, an assessment that provides the training staff a baseline to go off of when dealing with potential brain injuries. The test provides the training staff more insight into each athlete and checkpoints when dealing with a potential concussion. 

Upon diagnosing a concussion, each athlete visits Babka for further evaluation and does not return to play until passing a five-step, physical process. Once cleared, the athlete will still be watched closely as post-concussion symptoms can still pop up weeks and even months after the athlete suffered the concussion. 

The importance of the event was not lost on Trevino, a small-business owner. 

“I’m still recovering so anything our kids do in sports, concussions are always a big deal,” Trevino said. “This was a great thing and I wish there were more people here. But, this is a good start with a lot of information which was very, very helpful.”