Healthy Living

Apr 16, 2010 2:52 PM by Ariel Wesler

New software program making an impact on head injuries

A new software program is helping to ensure the health and safety of student athletes in Santa Maria.

Marian Medical Center recently donated the impact concussion software to all high schools in Santa Maria. School trainers are using the program to better diagnose and treat head injuries.

"You have headaches, maybe blurred vision."

Local trainers say they see between 5 and 10 concussions per year, mostly in football.

"There's no such thing as minor, you really have to take it very seriously," said John Malinowski, the athletic trainer at St. Joseph High School.

And high schools in Santa Maria now have an objective tool to do just that. It's a computerized program that tests brain functions. Marian Medical Center donated the software. Players take the test at the beginning of the year and receive a baseline score. If they have a head injury, they come back and take it again.

Trainers say the symptoms from a concussion aren't always so easy to spot, but with the program, they'll have a better idea of when it's safe for players to return to action.

"He may be telling me that he doesn't have a headache and he can be responding to some of the questions that I ask him and his balance may be fine, but then when we have him take the test it can show some deficits in areas that we didn't necessarily know," said Stacey McIntyre, a trainer at Righetti High School.

I decided to be a team player. The 20-minute program put me through several excersises, testing my memory and reaction time.

"It takes longer for adolescent brains to mature so we're having to be a little more careful," McIntyre said.

But players say they try not think about it.

"If you do, that's when you get something. That's when you get a concussion," said Matt Miller, a football player at Righetti High School.

And just keep their heads in the game.

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