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Andrew's Institute Concussion Research

It's football season, and across the South, high school football is a way of life and a rite of passage, but it's also a dangerous sport.

The Andrews Institute is using a program to treat, analyze, and hopefully prevent concussions on the gridiron.

In the past few years, concussions in contact sports have become a major discussion.
   
The NFL recently settled a $765,000,000 lawsuit with 18,000 former players over concussion related injuries.

"The old virtue of 'tough it out, see if you can go, you got your bell rung,' we don't go by that anymore. We haven't gone by that in a long time, but in general the sport itself does not go by that anymore," said Chad Gilliland, Director of the concussion program at the Andrews Institute.

The program begins by testing athletes in three ways.
Balance, vision, and coordination.
Those can all be affected by a concussion, and are tested before the season begins.

"If a concussion has occurred or that athlete thinks they may have a concussion, it gives us something to go by, so we can compare it to where they were before they ever started that activity," said Gilliland.

If a player sustains a hit to the head that might cause a concussion, the tests can be readministered.

When compared to the first test the results can help identify any brain injuries before an MRI or diagnostic imaging.

"Once a concussion shows up in those environments, it's a little more serious. So we're trying to address that before it ever gets there," said Gilliliand.

Gilliland says concussions are a big deal, especially at young ages.
They can cause life long problems if they're not treated correctly or, worse, ignored.

"The long term effects can be detrimental to them. There's some relation to long term dementia and other things than what they may have."

The tests have already been given to Santa Rosa County students, and Escambia County will be scheduled soon.

"The Institute says that recognizing, diagnosing, and treating a concussion early might help prevent further damage down the road in the athletes career.