High school football season is just weeks away, and Monday marked the first day of practice in pads for many schools. However, those added layers mean teams are increasing the level of rough play, and the possible injuries that could follow.
LeConte Medical Center and the Sevier County School District are working together to prevent concussions in students athletes, by paying special attention to athletic equipment and student health.
"Injuries do happen. What we can do as professionals, health care professionals, as well as our coaches, is to prepare the athletes as best we can," said Scott Byrd, the sports medicine coordinator for LeConte Medical Center and Sevier County Schools.
"We feel like having this 'Impact' as a tool better prepares us in the event of an injury." he said.
Through the program, a sports medicine professional affiliated with the medical center is placed at each high school in the district. They educate students about sports health, help coaches monitor equipment, and conduct tests on student athletes' brain health.
Byrd says the process starts with a computerized baseline test for all athletes in their first season of play.
"It's picking up on their memorization skills, their word association. It's picking up on reaction time, different skill sets that you need, that during a brain injury can be affected," he said.