Union Uses Special Software To Protect Athletes

Friday, September 18th 2009, 5:31 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A computer program is telling athletes when to stay off the field, even if they're feeling fine.  Union High School introduced the software new this season and already, trainers say it's keeping kids safe after hard hits.

The Union Redskins are a perennial contender for the state championship.  And now, they have one more tool in their arsenal, not to improve performance on the field, but to keep players off of it.

"Just because you don't have discoloration doesn't mean there isn't an injury there," said trainer Dan Newman.

He's not talking about the arms or legs, but about the brain.

"Hey, just because they don't have a headache, doesn't mean they don't have a concussion," said trainer Dan Newman.

Union's head trainer Dan Newman tested every player over the summer using the Impact Management software.  The program tests memory and concentration through word flash and pattern games.

Not everyone reacts physically to a concussion.  But, that doesn't mean there isn't a serious risk.

"It doesn't take much, but a little dink on the head. Comatose.  Paralyzed. Or you could die," said trainer Dan Newman.

Receiver James Roberson got hit hard in practice a few weeks ago.   He didn't even have a headache.  But, when Newman tested his Impact results, Roberson's numbers were off an astonishing 88%.  He says he couldn't concentrate at all.

"It's like me looking at you, and not knowing what you're like, daydreaming all the time," said James Roberson.

But, Union is one of very few schools to buy the technology.  The software costs close to $800.  But, it is not mandatory.

"Cost and time, is really it. I mean, how many certified athletic trainers are full time at high school? I mean, it's less than 17% of schools, over the entire state," said trainer Dan Newman.

But in Roberson's case, it let Newman know the kid needed to sit out even if he didn't want to.  And, despite grave projections of more cuts to school funding, Newman says Impact is worth the investment.