Arizona doctor launches program to identify, head off youth sports injuries

Nov 26, 2018, 4:30 AM

Jennifer Wethe of the Mayo Clinic Arizona Sports Neurology and Concussion Program, with U.S. Center...

Jennifer Wethe of the Mayo Clinic Arizona Sports Neurology and Concussion Program, with U.S. Center for SafeSport CEO Shellie Pfohl, left, says prompt detection of concussions is critical in youth sports. (Photo by Renata Clo/Cronkite News)

(Photo by Renata Clo/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – Jennifer Wethe knows the importance of getting treatment for a concussion as soon as possible. She also knows how often concussions can be overlooked in those critical first few moments.

“What we find instead is a lot of times people making excuses: ‘Oh well they’re just dehydrated,’ or ‘They got the wind knocked out of them,’ or ‘They had a headache,’” said Wethe, the co-director of the Mayo Clinic Arizona Sports Neurology and Concussion Program.

“Or any of these other things for why there might be some symptoms there instead of actually just checking them out objectively,” she said.

Wethe hopes to change that with a new protocol she had developed that can test athletes for concussions in under three minutes and that is simple enough to be conducted by a layperson.

She was in Washington recently to launch a national collaborative project aimed at preventing youth sports injuries across the board – not just concussions – through greater awareness, better data collection and tools like Wethe’s concussion test.

The Athlete Incident Management System platform, or AIMS, was developed in a partnership between Mayo, U.S. Youth Soccer, InjureFree and the U.S. Center for SafeSport. It is able to collect data on brain injuries, as well as educate parents and young athletes on concussions. Wethe said the project could really help keep children safe and improve recovery after injuries.

U.S. Youth Soccer members and teams in 15 states already have access to the platform, which is powered by InjureFree. It lets administrators track and report concussions and other injury incidents in real-time, as well as stay up to speed with state and federal regulations related to athlete safety.

Plans call for the project to expand to every state where U.S. Youth Soccer has associations, and there are plans to expand to other sports as well.

“This tool has the relevance and appeal to be used outside of soccer,” Chris Moore, CEO and president of U.S. Soccer Youth, said.

The protocol developed by the Mayo Clinic is already being used to assist hockey and football teams across the Phoenix Metro Valley, Wethe said.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport is part of the project, providing education on abuse prevention in sports. Center President and CEO Shellie Pfohl said young athletes who have suffered emotional trauma when playing sports run a greater risk of suffering concussions.

“Anytime something happens and takes a child or adult love for a sport away, then that’s one too many,” Pfohl said.

In Arizona, state law requires that coaches take an athlete out of a game if they see signs of a concussion, said Joe Paddock, assistant executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Paddock said that “our state law pretty much dictates that a student can be removed from the competition by any number of people.” Once a student is off the field, only trained medical professionals can clear him or her to go back in the game.

“Our coaches have pulled students out of games, officials have also sent students off the field of play during a game because they suspect a concussion,” Paddock said. “So I’m not sure why there would be hesitation to pull a student out of practice or out of competition.”

Wethe said that with testing, athletes who need help can get it and those who can go back in can do so.

“Odds are with our protocol that we have with concussion check. … if they (children) pass every step of that, the odds of them actually having concussion is pretty darn low,” she said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Stock image of a person carrying an umbrella in cold weather. The Phoenix forecast calls for cool t...

Kevin Stone

Chilling out: Upcoming Valley weather includes highs in 60s, possibility of rain

A weather system of cool air is poised to chill the Valley later this week and possibly bring rain to the Phoenix area.

1 hour ago

Bus through residence...

2 suspects on the run after bus crashes into home in Mesa; several injured

Several people were injured and two people were on the run after a bus crashed into a home in Mesa on Monday, authorities said.

2 hours ago

Bales of hay are stored under shelters at Al Dahra Farms, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, in the McMullen V...

Associated Press

Tensions over water are bubbling up at thirsty rural Arizona alfalfa farms

Worries about future water supplies from the McMullen Valley's ancient aquifers are bubbling up in rural western Arizona.

4 hours ago

Mugshot of Ivanka Koleva, who was arrested Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, for alleged involvement in her hu...

Woman arrested for allegedly killing husband in Gilbert

A woman was arrested Monday in connection to her alleged involvement in her husband's death last week in Gilbert.

5 hours ago

Example of ADU or "casita"...

Damon Allred

Tempe seeking public input on accessible dwelling unit expansion

The city of Tempe will continue to mull over their options regarding the expanded use of accessory dwelling units, seeking more public input.

6 hours ago

aerial view of downtown Chandler...

Damon Allred

Maricopa County invests $10 million in Chandler housing

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a $10 million investment into low-income housing in Chandler, the board announced Monday.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Arizona doctor launches program to identify, head off youth sports injuries