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Athletic Director Tackles Concussions Head On

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – John Bauerlein, the Athletic Director at Pleasantville High School, knows the significance of concussions in athletics.

"There used to be the saying, 'oh he just got his bell rung', but you can't go by that anymore because you could be putting the child at risk,"

In order to help prevent concussions with his student athletes, Bauerlein has implemented multiple procedures and rules in his three years as athletic director that coordinate with the school nurses and athletic training staff.

"After suffering a concussion, we want to make sure that the student can get back to playing without suffering any more damage," Bauerlein said. "It's more about the long term effects on life, high school sports are just a small percentage of life,"

One major program that Bauerlein has added to the athletic program is imPACT, a computerized neurocognitive assessment that tests a student athlete's concussion symptoms through factors like reaction time along with visual and verbal memory.

Each student-athlete at Pleasantville is required to take the test as a baseline before the season begins. Then, if the student suffers a concussion or is showing symptoms, they can re-take the test to compare it to their baseline. This can help in both diagnosing a concussion and also allowing a student to return to athletics.

To ensure long term health, Bauerlein placed a rule within his programs that before returning to a game, students must complete a few practices to get back up to speed, even after cleared by a doctor.

With heavy contact sports like football and lacrosse, Bauerlein believes that a large preventative measure is proper equipment for students. There are also New York state rules in Section 1 high school football where referees can remove a player for the remainder of the game if they feel he or she has suffered a significant head injury.

Section 1 high school football includes other local schools such as Westlake, Valhalla and Sleepy Hollow high schools, among many others.

Although there are proper precautions taken, Bauerlein realizes that concussions can also happen in almost any other physical activity and that not everything can be prevented.

"There's certain things that you just don't have control over and there's a certain risk you assume playing sports," Bauerlein said. "You can teach a kid all the proper technique and everything but in the heat of the moment you can't control their aggression out there and unfortunately they can just bump heads and do damage,"

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