In Montana, the Dylan Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act requires each organized youth athletic activity to adopt policies and procedures to inform athletic trainers, coaches, officials, youth athletes and parents/guardians about the nature and risk of brain injuries. This information must be consistent with current medical knowledge and guidelines. Save The Brain is a nonprofit community program co-managed by Logan Health Neuroscience and Spine along with Logan Health Medical Fitness Center. With ever changing guidelines, the Save The Brain mission is to develop and promote a cohesive and coherent concussion education, evaluation and treatment system related to concussion care.
“Athletes, high schools, and middle schools here didn’t have access to all the experts in care so Save The Brain came about to help disseminate information plus be a resource in the Flathead Valley for kids and athletes to get their concussion treated properly,” Says Tanner Ferderer, MD, neurologist at Logan Health Neuroscience and Spine.
Over the past 9 years this program has served and educated the Flathead Valley in Schools and at Logan Health facilities. Educators play a crucial role in concussion management. During a concussion, rotation or shaking of the brain occurs and causes tiny areas of damage throughout the brain. This causes a release of chemicals in the brain that can lead to worsening symptoms over the following three days. Imaging studies such as CT scans and MRIs can be normal initially; however, many different areas of the brain may still be affected.
Concussions can occur from many different types of injuries, both on and off the playing field. While bumping your head on something can cause a concussion, a collision is not needed to create this damage. Rotational and whiplash injuries are other common causes of concussion.
Many concussion patients have difficulty returning to their previous level of activity, including mental activity. A child’s main objective is to attend school and learn in order to achieve his or her highest potential. While not every concussed child plays sports, every child is a student. It is important to ensure that students have the initial focus to return to school before returning to sports.
“That starts with parents, families and athletic trainers on the sidelines being aware of what a concussion looks like in a child and getting them out of the game to prevent re-injury,” says Dr. Ferderer.
Save The Brain offers an at cost baseline score for athletic participants. Experts recommend that student athletes be tested every one to two years as they develop motor and cognitive functions.