The topic of concussions has become a controversial topic in the sports world in recent years. As part of Brain Awareness Week at Weber State University, Jeffrey Kutcher of the Sports Neurology Clinic spoke to students, faculty and athletes on March 21.
Kutcher worked on the medical staff for the University of Michigan football team for 13 years. He covered topics from symptoms and patient perspective to showing videos of severe head injuries athletes have sustained.
“My day here was fantastic,” Kutcher said. “(WSU) has incredible faculty and athletic training staff who are very involved and looking to do the best things.”
Kutcher said he hoped audience members learned a valuable lesson by attending.
“The most important thing is that the issue of concussions is more complex. It is really an issue of athlete brain health,” Kutcher said. “The best thing we can do for athletes of all ages is to give them the best possible neurological care.”
Kutcher said a misconception athletes often make is not realizing something is not right – either physical or mental, after absorbing a hit to the head.
“It’s super important to recognize that. Any time there is a hit causing symptoms, it needs to be evaluated,” Kutcher said. “But also, patients need to realize that not every symptom after a hit necessarily means a concussion. It just has to be looked at.”
Following Kutcher’s talk, a group of WSU athletes took to the podium and took questions from the audience in the hopes of raising awareness.
Dominique Williams, a junior forward on the Wildcat women’s basketball team, has a history of concussions and said it has become easier for her to realize what is happening.
“I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of symptoms with my first concussion. The second time, it felt like I had some of those symptoms again,” Williams said. “It all depends on what your trainers and medical professionals say.”
WSU football defensive lineman Jared Schiess said he did not learn about head injuries until he came to college.
“I went to a little high school in southern Utah and never heard about concussions. We didn’t even have an athletic trainer,” Schiess said. “We have a great staff here and they make sure we are doing proper technique and taking the necessary measures to keep safe. They do a good job of informing us.”
Kutcher said it is important for all students to become educated in brain health.
“Concussions can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or not,” Kutcher said. “You can fall off your bike, fall off a skateboard, slip and fall in the bathroom. It is equally important for everyone.”