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Concussions: Signs, symptoms and how local coaches keep players safe

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Now that school is back in session, fall sports have returned. But with hard-hitting sports, like football, comes some concerns when it comes to concussions.

If you suspect a concussion, watch for some specific signs. For example, if the athlete can't recall events prior to-- or after-- a hit or fall. Or, if they appear dazed, or stunned, they move clumsily, show mood or personality changes, or even lose consciousness.

Some other things to look out for are headaches, nausea or vomiting, balance issues or being bothered by light or noise.

The ER Nursing Clinical Educator for MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center said it's vitally important to keep the brain safe, especially when it comes to middle and high school-age athletes.

"Their signs and symptoms are so much more subtle. But their brains are just developing too, so, if you injure that developing brain, you don't know the consequences of what you injured and what was still growing and needed to function there," said Fitzgerald.

When it comes to treating a concussion, Fitzgerald said to treat it like any other injury. Give it rest, especially from screen time and stimulation in general, and not to get hit again.

Concussions can have lasting effects on players. Siouxland coaches say they're always trying to make sure their athletes are healthy.

"Protocols basically state that if we suspect you have one, or that you're in that realm, we will keep you out for a week. You're going to go through the entire protocol system. And no matter what your symptoms are, we still want to put you through that just to be safe," said Keaton Slaughter, Heelan Youth Football Chair.

Not only keeping athletes off the field after a concussion to avoid further injury, but practicing tackles that can help avoid them in the first place.

"Preaching how we tackle. With our head up. We're not bending at the back. We're really getting in an athletic position and posture. And that's something that we're trying to push down to youth more and more. But a lot of it is teaching and a lot of it is just showing proof of how you can make it better," said Slaughter.

"We do 20 minutes of tackling every day to work on keeping the head out of it. We work on from the Seattle Seahawks, called hawk tackling. We do gator roll type tackling, rugby players, it came from them. We keep our head on the backside instead of instead of putting or head on the front side. We really talk with our players about not leading with their head or dropping their head," said Mitch Mohr, Head Football Coach, North High.

And even when players are eager to get back on the field, making sure they teach safety and health comes first.

"It's simply put that there's a protocol. And it's not so much liability, but it's more so just us really, we do care about their safety of them. We want kids to keep coming out. We know that's a factor with parents deciding if they want to or not. But, we do want to tell them. the kids, there is a protocol to it and it's not so much about now but your future," said Slaughter.

Working to keep kids on the field and not on the bench.

"Playing safely allows them to play more often. You know, it helps us with our depth chart and other football issues. We just want our kids to be healthy. And we want parents to know that they're safe too," said Mohr.

Both coaches add another safety feature is the gear players wear. They said it's constantly changing to continue to make the game safer.

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Emily Schrad

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