By Jonathon Rowe
Flapjack Chronicle staff writer
ARCATA, Calif- 2nd down and 10 from the 12 yard line. The Azusa Pacific Cougars haven’t been able to stop the Humboldt State rushing attack all night. Redshirt freshman quarterback Casey Mintz rolls out to his right and meets the rugged helmet of the outside linebacker.
“I swear it felt like a sledge hammer struck the front of my helmet,” said Mintz. “I didn’t feel the symptoms until the next play, the dizziness and the brightness of the lights.”
Mintz was showing serious signs of a grade 1 concussion, which was diagnosed by 27-year-old assistant athletic trainer Neema Kianfar.
Symptoms, which include nausea, headache, and loss of memory, were all taken into account during examination.
“In basic terms a concussion is a brain bruise which is caused by some sort of impact of the brain against the skull,” said Kianfar. “Each concussion is different; we use a grade system from 1 to 5 which verifies the severity of the concussion.”
The game of football is well known for its violence and its tendency to injure those that do not take safety seriously. Concussions have become a major problem not only at the collegiate level but at the professional level as well.
Athletic trainers are taking major precautions along with emphasizing the importance of knowledge to their athletes. Fortunately for Mintz the concussion was only grade 1 and he was able to return to competition in less than a week.
Other athletes are not so lucky, 20 year old offensive lineman Derrick Austin has suffered multiple concussions that have sidelined an otherwise successful career.
“To be honest the whole concussion thing is a burden,” said Austin. “However, the recovery process is crucial and all athletes should take this seriously.”
Kianfar stressed the importance of recovery and the process that each athlete must endure in order to return to competition.
“We have a series of tests that we use to verify that it is in fact a concussion,” said Kianfar. “The computer impact testing is the most useful, we pretest each athlete at the beginning of the season and test them again immediately after the incident.”
Kianfar then takes both test results and compares them statistically for anomalies that convey concussion symptoms.
However, the severity of some concussions can keep athletes out of competition for months on end while adding some long term affects.
“The average concussion usually lasts a week or two,” said Kianfar. “However, in some cases the symptoms can last for months and it is crucial that we identify these rare anomalies.”
Kianfar has diagnosed many concussions and his main objective is to reduce the presence of Post-Concussion Syndrome, which is considered to be a traumatic brain injury. While uncommon; PCS, also known as shell shock, has been identified in concussion incidents particular to Humboldt State.
PCS affects the brain’s ability to function properly leading to sudden memory loss, impaired judgment, massive headaches, and sudden mood swings. Kianfar understands the severity of the condition, which is why he takes each case so seriously.
“We see between 30-40 concussions each football season,” said Kianfar. “On average only one of those cases turns out to be PCS each year.”
Knowledgeable treatment at HSU has led to the concussion rate steadily dropping each year. With the information at hand more and more athletes are reporting head injuries while also taking the proper steps to recovery.
“What it comes down to is your ability to recognize concussion symptoms no matter how rough the actual collision was,” said Kianfar. “We trust our athletes’ judgment while they trust our ability as a training staff to take care of them.”