Summit on concussions held at Children's of Alabama

Summit on concussions held at Children's of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It was on the final play of the final game of the season.

Mountain Brook kicker Harrison Ritchie was helping his team recover an onside kick.

"And in the process, I got hit and basically thrown on my head," Harrison said. "I got up and kind of stumbled towards the sideline and one of my friends just looked at me and as I was kind of wobbling he was like 'you're not alright.'"

Far from it, in fact. Harrison's recovery period proved daunting.

"He tried to do exams and catch up on work a month and a half afterwards and the symptoms came shooting back at us," said Lynn Rictchie, Harrison's mother.

Those symptoms included things like trouble sleeping, constant headaches and an inability to concentrate.

It's very important that athletes are not returning to play until their symptoms have completely resolved," said Dr. James Johnston, a neurosurgeon.

Johnston was one of those at this week's concussion summit at Children's of Alabama. He believes education is one of the keys to a successful recovery.

"I think everyone from coaches at the professional level, amateur level, down in the medical community have come to understand that concussion is a serious issue," Johnston said. "We're also starting to see in the improvement of some recognitions of coaching styles rules changes, changes in the way coaches are running practices."

And that's music to the ears of people like Lynn.

"I think until you go through it, you don't understand the process and every concussion is different to, as far as the recovery," Lynn said.

Those in attendance at the summit also heard about new ideas in preventions of concussions. One of those is a new type of helmet being designed by UAB researchers.

Once on the market, they hope to cut the number of concussions in half.

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