Bakersfield-- As football season begins in earnest this school year, it's the high school coaches and staff going back and hitting the books. They're studying the dangers of traumatic brain injury and concussions.
Coaches, trainers and athletic directors will meet Thursday morning for the 8th Annual Head Injuries in Student Athletes lecture. The lecture is put on by Hall Ambulance Service.
Experts say they aren't alarmed by the increase in reported concussions on local high school football fields but are encouraged.
"It's a comforting number because I feel like we know that our coaches know what to look for," said Stan Greene the Director of School Support and Services.
The Kern High School District has more than 15,000 student athletes. For the 2011-2012 school year, the district reported 80 students suffered a concussion. That number increased to 100 for the 2012-2013 school year. Greene says it reflects the education coaches and faculty have received on the subject.
"We have seen better reporting of what's going on with our student athletes. So, anytime you educate a group of people about the possibility of signs and symptoms, you're going to have increased reporting of it," Greene said.
The seminar will address head injury prevention, education and awareness in student athletes. The seminar is not open to the public.
Dr. Mark Ashley from the Centre for Neuro Skills says a brain isn't fully developed until the mid to late 20s. "As that organ is changing, and undergoes regularly scheduled changes developmentally, these injuries to the brain can seriously impact those developmental processes, delaying or stopping them all together," Dr. Ashley said.
He says initial symptoms from a concussion can wear off but the damage may be permanent.
"It's not like a bruise on an arm that heals and we have no ongoing problems. These kinds of injuries to the brain don't heal the same way," Dr. Ashley said.
He says a single game isn't more important that a student's health.
"No football score. No soccer score. No game at all is more important than that's student's long term health and you'd be surprised at the number of students' parents and coaches who won't abide by that advice."