Tonawanda News

September 26, 2013

Dr. Scott Darling: Hometown help for sports head injuries

By DR. SCOTT DARLING
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Note from the Editor: The tragic passing of Western New York high school football player Damon Janes last week has renewed interest and discussion of safety in sports, specifically with head-related injuries.

Dr. Scott Darling is a Primary Care Sports Medicine, Concussion Specialist based at the Summit Healthplex on Williams Road in Niagara Falls. He offers his thoughts and expertise as one of many local professionals taking on head injuries in sports.

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Recent tragedies have occurred in both high school and collegiate sports that underscore the ongoing and absolutely essential importance of proper head injury management and concussion evaluation. 

As concussion management physicians, we are the ones entrusted to care for and protect our valuable athletes. Unfortunately, even during routine practice or game play the unthinkable can happen, as it did this month to a high school football player in Brocton, N.Y. Damon W. Janes, a running back for the Westfield/Brocton football team, lost consciousness after a helmet-to-helmet hit during a game. He died shortly thereafter in Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. He was 16.

Statistics show that there were 25 high school athletic fatalities between 2003 and 2012. Unfortunately, these injuries are not uncommon but certainly they can be minimized with a comprehensive concussion team on the sidelines and readily available. Members of this team should include physicians, certified athletic trainers, coaches and physical therapists. 

Concussions and head injuries have been gaining steam as a hot-button issue on all levels of sports, from high school teams to the professional levels. Players in the NFL, for example, are not allowed to return to play the same day of a concussion. 

Awareness of recognizing concussion symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, forgetfulness, sensitivity to light or sound, loss of consciousness and feeling slowed down or foggy is essential for both coaches and parents alike. An athlete should never be allowed to return to play during the same game if any concussion symptoms are observed and/or suspected. 

We at UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine are the team physicians for numerous local professional, collegiate and high school teams, and are dedicated to providing a personal level of care to each and every one of our many athletes. Our clinics offer state-of-the-art services and procedures with immediate access for patients.

Our primary care and orthopaedic physicians have established a strong presence in the Niagara region. In addition to numerous locations, our expert physicians have access to a state-of-the-art concussion evaluation and rehabilitation clinic at the Summit Healthplex. This is in conjunction with the University at Buffalo concussion clinic and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. 

Through these clinics, neuropsychological and biomechanical testing are employed to evaluate athletes and return them to sport as quickly and safely as possible. Our physicians are committed to ongoing research as well, with recent publications and citations in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.

Spreading the word on concussion symptoms and management to coaches, parents and athletes is an essential to averting tragedies such as the one that occurred in Brocton. Sports and athletics will always be an enjoyable part of our culture, yet mindfulness of concussion symptoms and evaluation by physicians trained in these areas are essential. 

We must remember: When in doubt, sit them out!

For more information on UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at the Summit Healthplex, call 204-3200.