RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Brain injuries in sports have been under increased scrutiny – even among athletes in high school – and a local trainer has launched a mission to educate students on the dangers of concussions.
As CBS News Correspondent Michelle Miller reports, no matter what the sport at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey, Nick Nicholaides is the certified trainer athletes have been counting on to prevent injury. He puts the athletes to the test after every hit, looking for any sign of brain injury.
“My second year here at Ridgewood, I saw an alarming trend of a lot of concussions,” Nichloaides said. “Concussion is one of those injuries that you don’t necessarily see sings of it when you see someone.”
So Nicholaides created his own concussion awareness campaign, using a video to educate students on the dangers of concussions and recognizing the symptoms early.
Dr. Rosemarie Moser has studied the impact of concussions on student athletes for the last 25 years.
“They tend to be most vulnerable; more vulnerable than adults,” Moser said, “because their brains are still young. They’re still growing. They’re still changing.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the injuries caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head take longer to heal in minors. Symptoms range from headaches and fatigue to dizziness and nausea.
Hockey player Megan Donnelly fell on the ice last year, a jolt that put her out of commission for six months.
“I started feeling symptoms immediately, but for some reason, I kept playing,” Donnelly said.
It was her fourth concussion.
“If I get another one, there’s, like, the potential that I would be out for even longer than six months next time,” she said, “so I’m not really too eager to go back to sports.”
Now a junior, Donnelly is spending her time this semester focusing on academics.
Meanwhile, Colin Keating has recovered from the concussion he suffered while playing basketball as an eighth grader two years ago. He said he has not hesitated to keep playing contact sports since, but there have been lingering effects.
“Whenever I get hit in the head, I always take a step back and make sure, like, I’m fine,” Keating said. He said he has actually conducted some of the tests he learned from Nicholaides.
That is the very the effect Nicholaides had hoped for.
“That’s very encouraging to me. You’re educating kids to let you know when they’re hurt,” and to get help from a health care professional sooner rather than later, he said.
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