SEC football is in full swing. The topic of concussion is something the Georgia Bulldogs are paying particular attention to.
Georgia football is celebrated all year round. The team is revered by fans young and old. Each season, players give their all on the gridiron, making every play count. The staff surrounding the team watches for the hits and tackles on the field that may sideline a player.
"I'll be probably the first line of defense," Dr. Fred Reifsteck said.
Reifsteck is the head team physician. As information about the dangers of concussion continues to emerge, the awareness is raised at UGA.
"If we error on over-calling a concussion or under-calling a concussion, we'll over-call a concussion," Reifsteck said.
So far this season, two players reported a concussion.
"One of our concussions this year has been a very minor incident and that can be as significant a concussion as somebody who's running full steam into somebody else," Reifsteck said.
Last season seven players suffered a concussion.
UGA's Director of Sports Medicine, Ron Courson, testified before the congressional committee on concussions.
"Before there was the culture that nobody wanted to report them. Now I think there's an awareness that you can have a significant brain injury if you don't take care of this. It's more important for the athletes to let someone know about their symptoms," Courson said.
In 2010, the NCAA changed its guidelines, requiring each school have a concussion management policy.
"We've been doing concussion testing at Georgia since 1997. The biggest thing we changed is we developed a written policy. That was one of the things the NCAA recommended and actually our policy is the model for the NCAA," Courson said.
Under the policy, athletes must be informed about symptoms and sign a statement agreeing to report them. A player who has a concussion can't play for at least a day and can't return to play until a team doctor clears them.
"It's like climbing a ladder. You want to have a step by step approach," Courson said.
The team uses recognized tests to see if a player is ready to return to play. The first is a computer program called "Impact," which tests memory. The Director of the Sports Concussion Lab also uses a machine, which measures balance.
"It's part of that decision, that lateral approach. You go from A to B to C using all that information together to make good clinical decisions and return-to-play decisions," Courson said.
Something else new to the NCAA this year is a change the NFL made last year to reduce concussions is moving the kick off from the 30 to the 35-yard line. It's known as one of the most violent plays in all of football.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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