Last week, dozens of high school football coaches from across Virginia gathered in Redskins Park to learn more about how they can help when it comes to football player concussions and other brain injuries. Shockingly, there are an estimated 50,000 concussions in high school football each year across the country, and many of these concussions take place in Virginia. In 2008, two high school football players in North Carolina died of head injuries sustained during a game.

In many cases, medical professionals are not at the scene of a football game concussion accident and high school coaches have to take the lead to ensure that their players receive the proper medical treatment for their brain injury. The weekend seminar, many hope, will make coaches more aware of the problem of brain injuries in high school football and make the right decision about when a players should keep playing, sit out games, or go directly to the hospital.

A central theme of the Virginia head injury seminar was that players who suffered brain injuries often returned to play too quickly – and that the most deadly brain injuries often occurred within ten days of another concussion. Generally, players are up to four times more likely to suffer a concussion if they have recently suffered a brain injury. The take-home lesson? Don’t put players back on the field too quickly, and get them checked out immediately after a head injury.

In addition, the VA football coaches learned that very few concussions involved the loss of consciousness, and that a very serious brain injury can take place without any outward signs of trouble.