SportsCare Expert: How Parents Can Spot Concussions in Student Athletes

It was just another all-Saturday wrestling tournament. Jeff Wilson was there to watch his oldest child, Phillip, a junior at Springfield High School, compete. Looking back at that day, Jeff doesn’t recall anything out of the ordinary.

He took Phillip home, and his son slept all night. And the next day. And the next. They had to rouse him to get him to eat.

His parents thought it was exhaustion or maybe a touch of the flu. Phillip felt better on Tuesday but started having headaches at school. He talked to Karen Gregory, a SportsCare athletic trainer based at Springfield High, about it. She called Jeff and suggested his son be evaluated for a concussion.

Using ImPACT™, a computerized concussion evaluation system, SportsCare was able to test Phillip that week, compare his results to an earlier baseline test and confirm that a concussion was the probable cause.

What should parents watch for?

Every year, tens of thousands of high-school athletes sustain concussions. Often, athletes are not aware they’ve had a serious head injury or are reluctant to mention it out of fear that they’ll be pulled from games.

That’s why it’s important for coaches and parents to be alert for signs of a possible concussion, says Devin Spears, lead athletic trainer for SportsCare. Athletes may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Feeling foggy or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Changes in sleep patterns

As for Phillip, everything’s back to normal as he prepares to start his senior year at Springfield High. He was out of wrestling for two weeks to give his head time to recover from its injury.

SportsCare’s sports medicine symposium

Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard football player and WWE professional wrestler, will be the featured speaker at this year’s SportsCare annual Guerry and Michelle Suggs sports medicine symposium on Friday, Aug. 5, in the hospital’s Wedeberg Conference Center. Today, Nowinski is co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving the sports concussion crisis. If you want more details, visit or call 217-862-0444.

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