It's a parent's fear. Your child gets hurt when playing sports and sometimes that can lead to a concussion. Now one northern Michigan hospital system is using a new program with specific steps to make sure a student is 100% healed after a concussion before they're allowed to return to play.
"They are students first and athletes second and we have to make sure we keep it that way," says Daniel Conklin a physical therapist and service line director for ambulatory services at Kalkaska Memorial Health Center.
It's a philosophy Conklin stands by.
He's also helping to lead the way for a new program to help student athletes recover successfully and fully from concussions.
"The initial discussion about how we are managing concussions started about three to four months ago. We didn't have a program in place. The concern was our student athletes were going to different providers in the area and were very inconsistent with the approach to getting kids signed up to return to play," says Conklin.
Conklin says instead students were simply returning to play after a concussion without going through the correct training and healing process.
"The student was given paperwork by the school and said you need to do this to return to play progression. There were a lot of inconsistencies," says Conklin.
The new program is called "Cranium" and stands for concussion recognition and neurological intervention united management. It includes specific phases an athlete needs to complete and can take up to several days or even weeks before a student is cleared.
"The vast majority of concussions will heal in seven to ten days. Unfortunately about one third of the those may have symptoms that last six months. They have to go 24 hours between each stage symptom free before we progress," says Conklin.
Jeremiah Betz has been playing football for the past five years. He's a freshman at Kalkaska High School and recently suffered a concussion during one of his football games.
"The guy that was blocking me threw me into the side of his helmet and I hit my ribs and my head really hard on the ground. I had a headache and did feel really sick and tired," says Jeremiah.
Once it was determined Jeremiah had a concussion, Conklin worked with him for the next several days in the Cranium program. They started with just 15 minutes a day with different phases and eventually worked up to an hour a day.
"It started getting easier once I got used to it," says Jeremiah.
"Unfortunately if you're a football player like Jeremiah, you're going to miss a football game. That's tough but it was amazing to see his progression in five or six days," says Conklin.
"It's amazing what we do to make sure the athlete can safely go back and enjoy the sport again and mom and dad can be 100% confident he's OK," says Conklin.
If you'd like more information about the Cranium concussion recovery program including insurance information or how to enroll your student, there will be a meeting coming up on October 26th at 6 p.m.
It'll be on the campus of Kalkaska Memorial Health Center.
For more information and a direct contact click here.