Concussion protocol remains priority at Southwest Licking Schools

Thursday’s injury to Miami Dolphins quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, continues schools’ conversations on necessary healing time after head injuries.

PATASKALA, Ohio — Thursday’s injury to Miami Dolphins quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is not starting a conversation. It’s continuing one.

“I think it’s something we have to talk about every day,” Southwest Licking Schools‘ Assistant Athletic Director Jeff Severino said.

Severino was a former head football coach for 36 years.

“In high school, they’ve kind of changed it a little bit,” he said. “When I first started coaching…if you got a head injury, you came out, you shook it off and then we put you back in.”

Now, he’s thankful that safety has become a top priority.

Heather Mansell, an outreach athletic trainer with Nationwide Children’s Hospital is the district’s first line of defense. Mansell has been the athletic trainer for the district the last two years.

Her job, she knows, is not always popular, but it’s necessary.

“Absolutely,” she said. “I think part of the job is the kids get mad at me sometimes and that’s normal,” she said. “They want to play.”

In two years, she estimates she’s taken more than a dozen students out of competition for possible concussions. She credits Ohio’s Return to Play law that was passed in 2013 which allows trainers to pull players from practice or play if they’re suspected of sustaining a concussion.

“I’ve known kids who’ve had concussions and they’ve had depression [and] other mental issues,” Severino said. “If you don’t get that taken care of, or if you put them back in before they’re healthy [or they] get that secondary concussion that just makes things a little bit worse.”

Mansell said she knows high school sports are a big deal with many players being scouted or having the potential to obtain college scholarships, but she hopes athletes from peewee to professional take these situations seriously.

“I think it’s also important for the players to realize that they have so many kids looking up to them and they have to follow that protocol just as my high school kids have to follow that protocol for them to return to play,” she said.


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