Santa Clarita school takes proactive approach to concussions

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- The issue of concussions is a hot topic for parents of young athletes. In Santa Clarita, William S. Hart Union High School District is getting ahead of the issue by taking a proactive approach.

Sports success in the Santa Clarita Valley can be measured in CIF, state or national championships over the years.

But one longtime coach felt they were behind the times with medical training.

"With the California laws coming about with concussion protocol, I felt a need that we need to get athletic trainers here," said Mike Herrington, head football coach at Hart High School.

Harrington took his concerns to the school district, where they created a 50-50 partnership with Henry Mayo Hospital to put an athletic trainer in each of the six public schools.

"Henry Mayo is very proactive in concussion awareness and understanding and learning. They have a laboratory right in their own backyard," said Dave Caldwell, a district spokesman.

In a one-year period, there were 2,282 injuries to student athletes in the William S. Hart Union High School District - 107 were concussions.

"If I believe an athlete has a concussion, I advise them not to take any ibuprofen or any other anti-inflammatories. We don't want to speed up that process of having the blood flowing to the brain," said Josh Masmela, a certified athletic trainer.

It was imperative to take that responsibility off the coaches' plates.

"It allows us not to make those big-time judgments on when the kids should come back," Herrington said.

Sports is about winning and losing, but the victory here can't be measured on a scoreboard.

"Learn to understand the mechanism of injury. See if you can prevent that injury, or if you do get injured, learn how to manage," said Glenn Dabatos with the Henry Mayo Hospital.

In the William S. Hart Union High School District, football ranks as the sport with the most concussions. The second is soccer and the third is cheerleading.
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