Sports - High School

Nov 5, 2013 7:26 PM by Greg Smith

Palmer Ridge girls lacrosse doing something about concussions

Palmer Ridge lacrosse had a pretty successful season last year, but in one way, they had one of their worst. They made the postseason, but had four girls suffer concussions and miss their first round playoff game.

Coach Don Bryant didn't regret his decision to sit all of them. "It impacted our team dramatically," said Bryant. "I had to start five freshman for our playoff game. Definitely, concussions are too delicate to mess with. There's no way I would've put these girls in the game. It's something we're taking serious." The whole experience set him looking for answers. He started collecting ticket sale and concession money, and applied for a grant for new helmets. It was accepted.

"A set of head gear for every girl on our team, if they choose to wear it," said Bryant. "I'm not going to make it mandatory.  It's not mandatory through U.S. lacrosse right now. I've got it available for them if they want to wear it." The soft helmets have not been proven to prevent concussions. Half the team wears them, half don't.

"I really just don't want to miss any more playing time," says Rachel Bryant, a Palmer Ridge midfielder who was among those concussed. "It was really rough missing four games. It hurt stats, my self esteem, and that was really rough for me. I just want to be a part of everything and so I want to wear it just so I don't have to go through with that again."

"I don't think they're a good idea," says Ashley Walker, another Palmer Ridge midfielder who sustained a concussion last year. "If the reffing is more consistent, then that will prevent more concussions than wearing the helmet."

Many would say the helmets can't hurt. Thats not necessarily true. "When we put protective gear on we play more aggressively," says Dr. Brad Gulla. "Yes, it protects skull fractures more, but unfortunately, not the concussions." To wear the helmet or not, like so many other concussion topics, it's a bit foggy.

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