Medical teams talk concussion safety at Shootout

Medical teams talk concussion safety at Shootout

Whatever the weekend forecast, there is a 100 percent chance of soccer happening around southern Arizona.

The 25th Annual Soccer Shootout kicks off Friday night at Fort Lowell Park where medical teams set up a tent for the first time this year.

Crews from Tucson Medical Center and the CACTIS Foundation are focused on concussions to show coaches, players and parents how they plan to work on treating the injuries so children don't do any more damage when they hit the field.

Ashley Cartwright, who toured the tent with her daughter, said it's important to be aware what could happen on the field and what the possibilities are for treating it.

“I definitely think we need a standard so that we know if your child does get hurt, you're aware of what's going on,” she said.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Doctor Hirsch Handmaker, Chairman and CEO of CACTIS Foundation, said the idea is to test young athletes on different aspects, like balance and hand-eye coordination, similar to what happens at the professional level. That way if a player does take a hit to the head and a concussion is possible, he or she can take a similar test to see what's different.

This is new for the Tucson area, so researchers plan to work with a few teams in town later this year, but hope to have school districts support the testing so more players can be covered. Handmaker compared it to the availability of a physical.

Test crews couldn't run full exams on every child because it would take too long for the estimated 5,000 soccer players expected this weekend, but the awareness aspect was enough to excite Fernando Bernal, a coach from Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"What they're doing out here is awesome," he said. "To educate my team that, 'Hey, if you're feeling like this, let the coach know.' It's awesome for them to be out here. I think education is number one."

Bernal is right. Handmaker said one of the toughest parts about handling a concussion case is that there can be no obvious sign of damage. If a player doesn't speak up, it can be easy to miss without the cognitive tests.

Handmaker added that he sees the most concussions in boys' football, but right behind that is girls' soccer.

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