CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- High school and middle school coaches in West Virginia will be watching for signs of student athlete concussions during the upcoming school year.The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission is requiring head coaches for all sports to receive training on how to recognize concussions and how to deal with them."That will alert coaches to what they need to be aware of and how to be aware of it," Gary Ray, executive director of the SSAC, told the Charleston Daily Mail. "So then if there's any question about a kid or an athlete, they know how to deal with it."But the training isn't limited to coaches. The SSAC is opening the course to anyone in school communities as part of an effort to educate them about concussions. An awareness campaign also is planned to put posters and educational information in every school.
"Football is the focus, as it should be, but concussions could occur in every activity we have -- a young person could be out running cross country and fall and hurt their head," Ray said.The SSAC also plans to collect monthly data on concussions from every school. Schools will report any concussions that have occurred in the last 30 days."That will give us a good database of what we need to be aware of so we can kind of track it and see what we need to look at more closely," Ray said.Capital High School football coach Jon Carpenter said athletic staff members do not take any chances with potential concussions."If there's any chance that looks like they can be injured in that way, we keep them off the field," he told the newspaper.To be safe, Carpenter said he defers to his athletic trainer on every medical decision."I've always figured I'm not smart enough to make medical decisions; if I were, I'd make medical money," he said. "So I go to him with every question."In Putnam County, chiropractor Tony Erwin and family doctor John Neville are working to prevent student athlete concussions in the county, including requiring a baseline assessment."It takes the burden off the parents or the players who are worried about where this concussion thing is going, keeping a closer eye on them," Erwin told the newspaper. "And I really do believe that with all the eyes we have on these kids today, football and contact sports today are probably safer than they've ever been."Both Erwin and Neville volunteer as team doctors for the Hurricane High School football team.