By Justin Sweitzer
With head injuries often making mainstream headlines due to the severe nature of many contact sports, KU athletic trainers Jack Entriken and Brandon Nolt offered an in depth look at what their department does to both educate and protect athletes from dangerous head trauma.
As more attention is brought to these injuries, the fear of sustaining such an injury increases, often cause players to leave their injuries unreported to eliminate the risk having to sit out a game or lose playing time. This could increase the severity of the head injury, leaving the athlete vulnerable to second impact syndrome which can lead to respiratory failure, unconsciousness and death.
Entriken believes that education has led to an increase in reported head injuries—a positive sign meaning that athletes are noticing the effects of head trauma.
Entriken said, “A few players will always withhold injury information from the medical community because it may impact their playing time. As players become more educated about the long-term effects of head trauma, we hope that they are more willing to report such injuries. I don’t believe there has been an increase in head injuries, but heightened awareness has resulted in more reported head injuries.”
Nolt further supported Entriken’s claim and said, “We also provide education about the signs and symptoms as well as the effects of head injuries, which I feel has resulted in more athletes disclosing symptoms to the medical staff.”
In July of 2015, the NCAA approved a rule for football games, allowing medical observers to notify game officials when a player appears to have suffered a head injury. While it was a recent move by the NCAA, it was something that has been practiced for a while at KU as both trainers attested.
“Honestly, we have always gone by this policy. If one of the athletic trainers or team physicians that are on the sidelines during a contest feel that a participating player has a head injury, we will ask the official to stop the game and remove the player for evaluation,” Nolt said.
“Our school has been proactive in this area prior to the NCAA rule changes in that we often have two certified athletic trainers when our team plays football games. Adding an observer could potentially help at our level, but I feel we have been ahead of the trend in this area,” Entriken said.
KU athletes can rest assured knowing that they have an athletic training staff that places such a high importance on protecting their student athletes.
Nolt believes the number one priority for the staff is to educate their athletes.
“I feel that right now, education is the most important component. Education on proper technique from the coaching staff, education on equipment fitting from the equipment staff
and education on signs and symptoms as well as risks of not reporting from the sports medicine staff.”