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Copyright 2013 Capital Gazette Communications, Inc.
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Maryland Gazette
August 31, 2013
B; Pg.1
575 words
Rec coaches learn about concussion awareness

The Anne Arundel County Parks and Recreation Coach Certification Clinic broke new ground in the Old Mill High School auditorium on Wednesday.

Three speakers treated the near-capacity crowd of coaches from all sports to information about heat acclimation and hydration, the role of the volunteer youth coaches in the community and the biggest message - advanced concussion training.

Dr. Robert G. Graw, the chief executive officer and chief pediatrician of Righttime Medical Care and founder of HeadFirst Sports Injury and Concussion Care, spoke of the need for coaches and parents to anticipate and recognize the effects that heat and humidity can have on the body. He stressed the need to hydrate the athlete with 16 to 24 ounces of water two hours prior practices and games as well as repeating the process 20 minutes before them.

"To anticipate the dehydration prevents the problem,'' Graw said.

County Executive Laura Neuman spoke of the role of the coaches in the community, applauding their efforts in encouraging children. She also praised the work of the parks and recreation program.

The keynote speaker was Chris Nowinski, an All-Ivy League defensive tackle at Harvard and former World Wrestling Entertainment talent - until concussions ended his career. Nowitski spoke of his days of football in Boston. After graduating, he went into professional wrestling.

At the time his career was taking flight, he suffered a concussion during a match and blacked out. In the locker room, he told the trainer he was fine and continued his craft for another five weeks, suffering additional blows to the head. Finally, after a match in Indianapolis, he retired from wrestling due to post concussion syndrome.

"I never recognized I was getting concussions at the beginning, so I just thought it was no big deal," Nowinski said. "The sky would change colors or I would have double vision or I would have a splitting headache. I thought that was just normal."

Nowinski went back to Boston and received assistance from Dr. Robert Cantu, who helped him recall at least six occasions when he suffered concussions - twice on the football field and four times while wrestling. After a solid year of headaches and treatment from Cantu, the pair teamed to create Sports Legacy Institute.

"If I had known back then what I know now, I would have happily taken a few weeks off to let my brain recover," Nowitski said. "I threw away my career due to ignorance, and I regret it every day."

Through SLI, Nowinski travels frequently and speaks of the dangers of concussions. His presentation relayed the research that his group does with all levels of athletes, including many professional football players. He spoke of the neurological impact of traumatic brain injuries and how calcium ions rush into the brain and cause it to not work properly. He stressed to coaches that they can't treat a concussion like they can a broken arm or leg.

Nowinski also said returning to normal activities should follow a graduated return to play protocol. His final message to the audience was for the coaches to stress to each player that if they see a teammate who has signs or symptoms of a concussion to report it to the coach.

"It is critical that we get this message to coaches, especially youth," Nowinski said. "They don't have the medical support to help diagnose a very complex injury. Kids are most vulnerable to concussions, and it's most important to diagnose it when they're young."

Chris Nowinski gave a talk on concussions to Anne Arundel County recreation coaches on Wednesday.
August 29, 2013

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