Coaches and athletes need to know how to respond if a player is concussed. Photo: ErnestDuffoo/Creative Commons

A recently published report suggests that 600,000 youth concussions occur yearly in the U.S., about double the 300,000 commonly estimated. The figure is extrapolated from a survey out of Massachusetts that found that 3,000 youth athletes from 164 schools suffered concussions last year.

Schools and parents try to take measures to protect their kids from potentially devastating concussions which happen across many sports, including, but not limited to, football, soccer and boxing. But, especially in football, the only true shield is to prevent the contacts that lead to the concussions in the first place. Even helmets don’t actually protect the brain.

Research in the field is expanding and with it come some frightening statistics. It’s of particular concern for high school athletes as their brain cells still developing.

Berkeley resident Cindy Chang was the Chief Medical Officer for the U.S. Olympic team. She’s also the parent of a Berkeley High athlete and is inviting all parents of high school athletes to an Advanced Concussion Training talk tonight at Berkeley High School.

“Athletes need to know what a concussion looks like in their teammates and what it feels like for themselves,” said Chang. “Coaches and trainers need to know how to respond in the moment. Properly concussion-specific trained doctors need to know when to release an athlete back onto the field. And parents need to educate themselves and be their child’s advocate.”

She adds that Berkeley High’s new Athletic Director Allison Smith, is making concussion a priority topic.

Chang will be accompanied at the one-hour session by Ben Lynch, former California Golden Bear and San Francisco 49er football player, Eric Freitag, co-chair with Chang of the California Concussion Coalition and President-Elect of the Northern California Neuropsychology Forum, and Casey Batten, UC Berkeley Head Team Physician.

The Advanced Concussion Training session takes place today, Oct. 29, 8:00-9:00 p.m. at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater on the Berkeley High campus. Read the flyer for more information.

Kill two birds with one stone! Also tonight on the Berkeley High campus: All six of Berkeley’s mayoral candidates have said they will attend a Mayoral Forum organized by the student-run Diverse Political Views Club — 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the BHS Library. Read more here.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...