Kaitlyn Rule ’19  |   Published April 05, 2016

Concussion protocol

Monmouth College ahead of the game when it comes to monitoring head injuries
  • Max Daniels ’16 goes up to head an oncoming soccer ball in a game against Illinois College.
Bob Foster, Monmouth College’s head athletic trainer, wants all athletes, coaches and parents to recognize the importance of the concussion protocol for Fighting Scots athletic teams.

“Concussions that go untreated can become very serious for the player, and that can affect them long-term,” said Foster. “Every college sport is at risk for concussion injuries, which is why everyone must be informed about what the protocol requires, including how to recognize a concussion and its symptoms.”

At the beginning of each athletic season, Monmouth athletes are educated about the symptoms and treatment of concussions. After an incident is reported, says Foster, an athlete undergoes different tests and a checklist is followed to determine the seriousness of the concussion. The athlete checks in daily with a trainer to track progress. Once the symptom checklist reaches zero, the athlete must be cleared by a doctor before resuming practice.

“Athletes will start with non-contact practice until they are cleared for full contact practice, where they will still check in with our trainers,” said Foster.

Statistics show it takes athletes 7 to 10 days to return to practice, but more serious concussions that go untreated can keep them sidelined for an entire season. Monmouth’s training staff and coaches take the protocol very seriously, and scientific data increasingly support that stance. In March, for example, the National Football League’s executive vice president of player health and safety formally acknowledged a connection between head trauma and Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy (CTE).

“It is my main job to make sure athletes are safe,” Foster explained. “I have had nothing but positive responses from our coaches about it. There is no absolute way to prevent concussions. But having a proper education about them and the protocol to follow will decrease the damage done over time.”

Sarah Wright of McHenry, a freshman on the women’s water polo team, received a concussion after accidently swimming into the pool wall during a game. Wright denied having any symptoms until she was put through a concussion test, in which she tested positive for a mild/moderate concussion. She was pulled from games and practices until cleared by a doctor, and she checked in with Foster every day to report on her symptoms.

“He took notes each day and gave me advice on how to handle the concussion and its symptoms,” Wright explained.

Foster also helped Wright by communicating with her professors about what happened and her recovery time. Overall, says Wright, her professors were very accommodating and allowed her to postpone tests and essays until she was fully able. Once she was cleared by a doctor, Wright went through a physical agility test and a dry land practice until she eased back into full practice. The process took about two weeks, but Wright believes she was taken care of very well and that she was able to come back at the right time.

“Bob does a great job with education and treatment of our athletes,” said director of athletics Roger Haynes. “The key pieces are diagnosis and the proper protocol, including a doctor’s release before considering return to practices and contests.”
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