Report: 1 out of 5 brain injuries from recreational activities

By Stewart Moore - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A report released by the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina says one out of five traumatic brain injuries are due to recreational activities. Their study focused on children between the ages of 6 and 18.

To make sure those injuries are identified, high schools are taking extra precaution to protect athletes.

High school sophomore Ashlyn Ewing is a flyer on the Pelion Panther's cheerleading squad.

Ewing and her teammates were recently at a local gym practicing when she fell from almost 15 feet in the air.

"My coach that was at the gym we were at, she asked me all these questions, like to see if everything was okay," recalled Ewing. "I went to urgent care and they took x-rays. said nothing was wrong. Probably pulled a muscle."

The next day, things didn't get better. Ewing was suffering from intense headaches and had a sensitivity to light. That's when she saw the school's athletic trainer. He tested her using the school's impact testing program.

"It's a series of really computer games," said Dr. George Wham. "Lots of memory and reaction time."

Ashlyn, like other athletes at Pelion, took the same test at the beginning of the school year. In a comparison of her results, it was clear to Dr. Wham that she had suffered a concussion and would be sidelined from competition.

"In the old days, when you were A-symptomatic, you put the athlete back in," said Dr. Wham. "Now the first day, we let you ride the bicycle for 20 or 30 minutes. Next day we have you jog, next day agility and weightlifting. Finally put you back in with non-contact practice."

In Ashlyn's case she hasn't gone back fully into the game. She's practicing with her teammates again and on the sidelines during football games, but not yet ready to fly.

"I'm nervous, had injuries before," said Ewing. "With my shoulder and my wrist flying. So I'm a little nervous, but I'll get back to the point where I'll be able to."

The impact test that Ashlyn and the athletes at Pelion use to spot concussions are also used at Blythewood, Lugoff-Elgin, Richland Northeast and Spring Valley High Schools. The ultimate goal is to ensure that concussions are spotted sooner and that these athletes are safe before returning to the field of play.

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