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Cherokee County testing athletes for concussions

9:44 AM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- This week the U.S. government announced a probe into the rise in sports-related concussions in young people.

It comes amid concerns over the suicides and other tragedies involving professional athletes.

This school year, Cherokee County Schools has instituted a program used by the NCAA and professional sports teams called ImPACT, which stands for Immediate Post-concussive Assessment and Cognitive Testing.

It's sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee, and it's a way to help doctors and coaches manage concussion cases.

Fifteen percent of all high school injuries involve concussions and a large portion of them are in kids that have already had a least one concussion.

"I've had one before. But nothing major," said Joey Payton, a wrestler and junior at Etowah High School. "It hurts your head; that's all I know."

He suffered a headache. In the past, once headaches ended, coaches would let student athletes return to playing. That's changed.

Every student athlete, in every sport, must take the baseline ImPACT concussion test.

"If a something happens and tennis player runs into a pole, a swimmer runs into the wall in a pool, we want to make sure that everyone is tested," said Jessica Bruner, athletic trainer, coach and physical education teacher at Etowah High School.

The 20-minute computer test measures things like an athlete's reaction time, short-term memory and concentration.

While students admit the test is difficult, they're don't mind taking it.

"I think it's a good thing," said Jack Shaunessey, who plays basketball at Etowah High School. "I think we should cause there has been a lot more concussions lately."

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