LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- Practices for area high school and college athletes are underway.
Fall sports like football, volleyball and soccer started this week and part of preparing for the season means thinking about player safety.
To protect players from head injuries helmets are inspected during the off season. Damaged ones are discarded and any helmet that's 10 years old is required by law to be replaced.
Still, there's no way to completely prevent concussions and it's not just football players at risk, but any athlete in a contact sport.
"Every time the head gets hit doesn't meant there's a concussion, but there is that potential and so what we're looking for are signs and symptoms that would indicate a traumatic shaking of the brain," said Sheldon Wagner, a certified athletic trainer at Gundersen Health System.
To help coaches and trainers manage head injuries, athletes take an impact test at the beginning of the season.
"It's a test that has a couple different areas to it," Wagner said. "It measures reaction time, short term memory and to some extent, long term memory."
That score serves as a benchmark to assess the severity of the concussion and determine when an injured player can get back in the game.
"Getting your bell rung, that statement no longer applies and if you're suspected of having a concussion we hold you out until you're checked over to make sure that you're not," said
Steve Hole, the Logan High School athletic director.
Returning to the field too soon can be detrimental especially for a young player.
"There's a condition called second impact syndrome, where kids' who's brains are still developing sustain two injuries, kind of on top of each other, and they can become permanently disabled or die," Wagner said. "That doesn't happen very often but more often we've got kids that are sustaining injuries and they're having trouble concentrating in school."
Recovery time for a concussion varies for each person but typically ranges from 7 to 21 days.
For more information on concussions, including signs and symptoms you can click here.
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