Mayo Offers Free Tests For Concussions

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Payson High School football coach Byron Quinlan is urging his players to take advantage of a new and unique offer that will allow them free online concussion testing.

“Our trainers do a great job with possible concussions, but (Mayo testing) is another tool out there,” he said.

The concussion testing is now available to more than 100,000 high school athletes around the state including those participating in sports at PHS.

Baseline concussion testing is an online cognitive test that can be taken on any computer with Web access.

The Mayo testing measures how the brain is working when it is normal.

The advantage of having a baseline assessment is that it helps doctors understand when there has been a change in brain activity, which indicates a concussion.

The test also helps determine when an athlete’s brain has returned to normal and he or she can return to play.

Studies show, that when athletes continue to play after a concussion or return to action too soon, there are significant risks of suffering another concussion. Also, repeat concussions take longer to heal and there is a risk of permanent neurological damage.

An example of an athlete who suffered multiple concussions that forced him to give up the sport is former Arizona State University quarterback Steven Threet.

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Max Foster/Roundup

Longhorn football coach Byron Quinlan and assistant Sean McCarthy examine one of the team’s football helmets. While designed to protect athletes, some hits still can do damage.

During his collegiate career, Threet suffered four concussions — two of them occurring during the 2010 season. The first occurred Oct. 23 at California and the second Nov. 26 against UCLA.

In February, Threet announced he was giving up on the sport that many thought would eventually earn him a lucrative pro contract.

Losing Threet was a blow to the Sun Devil program, but he is an intelligent young man who is on track to graduate in December and obviously made the objective decision to quit to save his brain from further damage.

While Threet is being lauded for making an unemotional decision in the best interest of his health, there are those who continued to play despite the dangers.

Ted Johnson, who won three Super Bowl rings as a linebacker for the New England Patriots, is said to have suffered more than 100 concussions and is now suffering the aftereffects.

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at the Boston University School of Medicine recently began studying concussions using tissue from former NFL players who have died.

In the past, concussions had been considered “invisible injuries” because they were almost impossible to test.

But the results from the CSTE made known for first time the tremendous brain damage done by concussions.

Just days ago, CSTE research released the results of posthumous tests done on athletes who had suffered concussions during their career including former NFL player Tom McHale who died in 2008 at the age of just 45.

Results of the tests show that the damage done is extensive and not limited to superficial aspects of the brain but deep inside.

The Mayo Clinic’s offer to do the testing comes on the heels of the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1521 that requires players who have sustained a head injury must remain sidelined until given the OK to play by a licensed health care provider.

Also, the Arizona Interscholastic Association is recommending all high school athletes undergo the tests.

Quinlan says he hopes the recommendations and results now rolling in should encourage Longhorn football players to take advantage of the Mayo Clinic testing offer. Getting the free baseline test is really a no-brainer — giving health care providers and coaches the information they need to keep players safe.

For more information, go to http://www.mayoclinic.org/concussion-testing.

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