YARMOUTH, Maine —A retired NFL player and a panel of medial experts (Dr. Heinz, Dr. O’Connell, Kendrick Ballantyne, Dr. Bardwell) answered questions from students, parents and coaches about concussions and how they can be treated.
Former Baltimore Ravens Tight End Kendrick Ballantyne, a Maine native, said it is only recently that awareness of concussions has grown.
“Even in the late 90s and early 2000 when I was in high school, there wasn’t a lot of awareness,” Ballantyne said.
Ballantyne said many players just try to “shake off” a head injury and keep playing.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how many small concussions I’ve had, or things that have happened that I know things are wrong with my head, and it’s a concussion,” he said.
He said he now wants to spread the word to help others avoid serious injury.
“It’s something that can damage the rest of your life and cause problems long-term,” he said.
Dr. William Heinz helped co-found the Maine Concussion Management initiative to help teach athletes to know when it’s time to take a seat.
“Sit them out, so when you think they’ve had a concussion, they’re done until they prove otherwise. And that’s something I’ve said for years to athletic trainers: is if you even think there’s a problem, you take their helmet and you don’t even let them go back to play until someone looks at them and says they’re OK,” he said.
“It takes several hours to several days for the injury to really manifest itself, so the athlete will take a hit and you won’t really tell how bad they are for sometimes a couple of days,” he said.
Portland Public Schools recently changed their concussion policy to include training staff, and middle and high school athletes on how to handle concussions.