Interview with Author and Concussion Expert Phil Hossler

Here is our second installment of interviews with our distinguished authors. This month we’re featuring our concussion guru, Phil Hossler.  He is the certified athletic trainer at East Brunswick High School in East Brunswick, New Jersey and has authored 3 texts for high school athletic trainers, parents and athletes. He penned a book written in 2006 specifically for the high school athlete and those in the “neighborhood” who would care for a concussed student-athlete titled, Getting A-Head of Concussion: Educating the student athlete’s neighborhood.  He co-authored Concussion Policy: A Construction Guide for Schools and the Player’s Contract for coaches and athletic staff to make student-athletes aware of the guidelines for their safety and as well as their teammates.  Phil recently added a new tip card to our expanding inventory, called Concussion Education: In the student-athlete’s neighborhood.  You can find all these publications on our website: http://www.lapublishing.com/concussion-education-school/

Here is what he shared with us about sports concussions: 

Lash:  What got you interested in sports concussion? 

Hossler:  In 2004, the New Jersey Brain Injury Association called me seeking a high school athletic trainer to be a part of their newly created sports concussion committee.  Our first project was a statewide summit aimed at administrators and officers of all youth sports organizations and teams in New Jersey. The meeting held at the Meadowlands in New Jersey was a huge success and paved the way for many other projects. 

Lash:  What do you think are the 3 primary factors about sports concussion that have pushed it to the forefront? 

Hossler:  First, would be the heightened awareness by the NFL and what has happened to retired players with cognitive and emotional deficits.  Second, would be the increased recording of concussive events which brought to light the unfortunate deaths of several high school athletes. Third, as a result of the increased focus and heightened awareness, we’re seeing legislative efforts across the nation, with 33 states now passing legislation for putting procedures and responsibilities in place for school districts with scholastic sports. 

Lash:  What are some of the most common myths about sports concussion? What are some of the most common facts? 

Hossler:  MYTHS include thinking some concussions are not significant.  “I just got my ‘bell rung.’”  “If I did not lose consciousness then it isn’t a concussion.”  Teens recover faster than adults.

FACTS – 1) There is no such thing as a “minor” concussion.  2) 90% of concussions do not involve any loss of consciousness.  3) Adolescents’ brains are still developing and are more immature, therefore they may get more serious and longer lasting concussions than adults. 

Lash:  Are you getting any resistance from school administrators about the need for more education on sports concussion?

Hossler:  School administrators and board of education attorneys are acutely aware of the significance and overwhelming potential for long-term academic, behavioral and social ramifications from concussion.  I have not experienced any hesitancy from schools about following recently enacted state law in New Jersey. 

Lash:  What is the best way to educate players about sports concussion?  

Hossler:  As is typically seen, there is a call for safety by removing the athlete until evaluated and cleared by a physician.  But there is also a universal theme of educating those involved. Some innovative methods are being implemented by certified athletic trainers from around the country and provided to athletes, parents and coaches. For instance, there are athletic training web pages with a concussion link with valuable information for athletes;  the Centers for Disease Control has offered a course found on the National Federation of State High School Association’s web page; and Lash & Associates Publishing/Training has an extensive supply of resources readily available.  These are just a few examples of how we are striving to educate the student-athlete and his “neighborhood”. 

Lash:  What is latest and greatest technology related to concussion? 

Hossler:  The concussion frontier is just now being discovered. The computerized neuro-cognitive testing format via computer/internet is certainly a tremendous initial instrument allowing baseline and follow-up monitoring.  It is a very viable and important assist today and is another vital tool in the health care providers’ tool shed. Current research into alterations of enzymes, sonic monitoring of cerebral blood flow and simple blood tests that can detect somatic changes as a result of concussive trauma may hold very definitive promise in the future. 

Phil’s books can be viewed at http://www.lapublishing.com/concussion-school-sports/

An interesting aside to this timely interview is a recent AP story out of Atlanta that reported the increase of emergency room visits by children with concussions – up 60%.  What this means is that parents and coaches are becoming more aware of the long-term hazards of concussions and more vigilant about the treatment of head injuries.

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