District’s efforts to prevent concussions more than welcome

Another name for “concussion” is “traumatic brain injury.”

It’s serious business.

Study after study has linked concussions with long-term problems, especially when they are repetitive and happen to young people.

There’s been a lot of attention paid to football after concussions were linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, that develops later in a player’s life; the disease has a progressively serious list of symptoms.

Coaches, parents and school districts across the nation are grappling with how to best protect student-athletes from concussions. Some parents have taken their children out of football and other sports because of concerns about head injuries.

Contact sports aren’t going away anytime soon, and it’s ultimately the parents’ decision as to whether a child should participate.

The South Whidbey School District should be commended for taking the issue seriously and making important strides in protecting athletes.

The work, however, needs to continue as more is learned about the effects of concussions and how to best protect kids. To help accomplish this, the district should consider making the new athletic trainer a full-time position.

Football and girls soccer account for most of the reported concussions, though the exact number of occurrences this year is unclear.

In 2015, 10 members of the football team suffered concussions.

The district’s athletic trainer, who this year became the first person to be paid in the position, diagnoses signs of concussions in players and follows up to see if the student is exhibiting problems in the classroom or beyond.

The football coach teaches the Heads Up Football tackling techniques, which reduces the chance for injury and concussions. Helmets are sent back to the manufacturer at the end of each season for safety checks and refitting.

The coach for girls soccer also has rules to help avoid injuries.

Sports play an important role in the lives of many children. They learn teamwork, stay healthy and feel a sense of camaraderie. School districts should do all they can to prevent head injuries and ensure sports are a positive and safe experience for all students.

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