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[12] September 30, 2011



Contact and submissions: Josh Suman or 425.453.5045

Head Games

Part two of our look at how local high schools are dealing with head injuries to young athletes BY JOSH SUMAN

At Eastside Catholic School in Sammaish, there were 37 documented concussions at the high school level and 18 more in middle school youths during the 2010-2011 school year. Twenty-one of the 55 came in football. In its first year of playing football, Bellevue Christian School has already seen a rash of concussions including one that may keep a player from participating in basketball as well. The numbers were lower at Sammamish High School in Bellevue, where there were 25 documented concussions across all sports. But one of those involved spinal complications and ended a player’s career and three other student-atheletes saw their football season come to an end. Two Totems’ football players have already been concussed in the opening weeks of this season. Both Bellevue High School and Eastside Catholic employs the ImPACT testing system, which is used by a bevy of NCAA athletic programs, over half of the NFL and much of MLB and MLS. The 20-minute test, which was developed in the early 1990s by Drs. Mark Lovell and Joseph Maroon, measures verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time, attention span, working memory and other factors that are then compared to baseline results to determine whether or not a player is suited to return to action.

“I’m really happy with it,” EC athletic trainer Kristen Slonksy said. “Nothing is full-proof, but what we do makes me feel safe about putting those kids back out on the field.” Slonsky emphasized that she does not use ImPACT to decide whether or not an athlete has suffered a concussion, but rather as another tool to measure recovery once symptoms have begun to subside. Slonksy also uses a daily checklist where athletes can detail the scale of their symptoms to measure the rate at which recovery is taking place. While ImPACT is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, scientifically reliable system available for testing athletes who have been concussed, it has drawbacks as well, namely price. ImPACT offers three yearly packages for schools or organizations that gives access to the testing system. The most affordable includes 75 baseline tests and 30 post injury tests at a cost of $350. A mid-range package priced at $500 allows for 300 baseline tests and 120 post injury tests and the most inclusive package offers 600 baseline tests and 240 post injury tests for a price of $750. Each of the packages are good for one calendar year and additional baseline and post injury tests can be purchased in an a la carte fashion in increments of 50. At Sammamish High School, players are baseline tested before the season, but not using ImPACT software. Totems’ athletic trainer Cheryl Reed, who spent six years at Skyline High School in the same capacity, has developed

Dr. Stephen Hughes is a specialist in head injuries at Overlake Medical Center and a team doctor at Mt. Si. CHAD COLEMAN, Bellevue Reporter

her own system of baseline testing using parts of the SCAT 2 (sports concussion assessment tool) test combined with other methods. SCAT 2 tests memory, coordination, balance and delayed recall. She believes her system is more practical and more efficiently executed at the high school level than ImPACT. “In my professional assessment of the ImPACT software, I don’t think it’s a usable tool at the high school level,” Reed said. “Without neurologists who can read the results, it’s not going to be terribly helpful. I know my athletes better than a piece of software.” Reed’s replacement at Skyline, Lian Yuen, also uses a modified SCAT 2 testing system and performs baseline tests for Spartans’ athletes by request. Yuen said there simply is not enough time to baseline test each and every athlete. 60% of Skyline’s 1,395.68 (2010 WIAA average fulltime enrollment figure) students participate in one or more varsity sports. Unlike her predecessor, however, Yuen believes ImPACT is a viable system at the high school level. “I would love to do ImPACT testing,” Yuen said, adding that the system allows baseline tests to be taken by athletes on any computer, meaning they could complete the timeconsuming and detail oriented process at home. Yuen also believes the ImPACT model, which varies the memory portion of the testing each time it is taken, would be useful in deterring overzealous athletes from cheating the test by memorizing responses. Other schools such as Newport and Interlake do not [more HEAD GAMES page 13]

Bellevue, Newport hope to get defensive tonight BY JOSH SUMAN

It’s no secret that Newport and Bellevue have two of the most dangerous offenses in the area, led by a pair of dual-threat maestros in Isaac Dotson and Tyler Hasty. But when the Knights welcome unbeaten Eastlake and the Wolverines travel to 3-1 Mercer Island tonight, it will be the defenses that hold the key to victory. Facing a top-flight quarterback is nothing new for the Bellevue defense in 2011. First, it was Lucas Falk, an Oaks Christian transfer from Logan, Utah who is widely considered one of the top prospects at his position in the country for the class of 2013. Next up was Max Browne, a junior

from Skyline who holds scholarship offers from California, Clemson, Utah, Wisconsin and the hometown Washington Huskies. Neither could crack the Wolverines. But those inside the Bellevue program are looking at tonight’s test against UW commit and Elite-11 participant Jeff Lindquist as the most difficult of the three. “Jeff is probably a little more mobile than the other two and that creates some problems,” Bellevue head coach Butch Goncharoff said. “He’s a little harder to prep for.” Bellevue senior defensive back Devin Murphy will be part of the unit charged with slowing Lindquist. “The key is that he can run the ball really well and has good size,” Murphy said of the 6’3, 225 pound

practicing for the past two weeks.

Knights hope to reverse trend

Jeff Lindquist has Bellevue’s attention. CHAD COLEMAN, Bellevue Reporter Mercer Island senior. “We’re going to need to rally to the ball when he’s running and be disciplined in our coverage.” Despite Lindquist’s ability to create with both his arm and legs, the Wolverines are confident they will be able to matchup with Mercer Island at the line of scrimmage, keeping the lineback-

ing corps free to attack if he takes off running and close down passing windows when the Islanders take to the air. Bellevue will also again have the services of running back Myles Jack tonight. Jack, who moved to Georgia during the offseason, is back living in Bellevue and will be eligible to play after

Newport surrendered its lowest point total of the season last week in a 49-6 win over Cascade (Everett) after allowing 24 to Bothell and 34 to both Interlake and Mercer Island, which handed the Knights their only loss of the year. The Wolves, meanwhile, have scored more than 40 points in each of their previous three games after opening with a 35-14 win over Central Kitsap. “They [Eastlake] are really good at running,” Newport senior and leading tackler Nathan Kubej said. “We’re going to need to be physical and real quick off the ball.”

Eastlake boasts two of the top eight rushers in the conference, including Ryan Lewis, who has tallied 660 rushing yards through the first four games of the season to go with eight touchdowns on the ground. While Lewis has set the pace in the running game, quarterback Keegan Kemp has thrown for 558 yards and six scores and is also a threat as a runner, going in for four touchdowns this season. “We’re going to have to pressure him and make sure we break down,” Kubej said. “We see he likes to scramble sometimes.” Since Newport rejoined 4A in 2008, the Wolves have had their number, winning each of the four meetings between the two, including a mini-playoff victory in 2009.

Head Games Part II  

Part two of our look at concussions in youth sports and a local response.

Head Games Part II  

Part two of our look at concussions in youth sports and a local response.