Crash Course

Bryant stu­dents ed­u­cated on con­cus­sion risks with VR soft­ware

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Dana Guthrie [email protected]­ton­courier.com

Bryant High School has be­come the first school in the na­tion to use vir­tual real­ity equip­ment to ed­u­cate stu­dent ath­letes on the dan­gers of con­cus­sions and what they should do if they be­lieve they have been in­jured.

Former Stan­ford Univer­sity quar­ter­back Ryan Burns, of non­profit group Teachaids.org, ad­dressed the crowd on Wed­nes­day to ed­u­cate about the dan­gers of a con­cus­sion and to let BHS ath­letes try out the vir­tual real­ity equip­ment.

“Our main fo­cus these last few months has been to bring ev­ery stu­dent in Arkansas con­cus­sion ed­u­ca­tion in vir­tual real­ity,” Burns said.

Burns knows first-hand the dan­gers of a con­cus­sion. He suf­fered one while at Stan­ford, lead­ing to him los­ing his start­ing spot be­cause he did not re­port his in­jury and didn’t re­ceive treat­ment.

“I knew im­me­di­ately. It was one of those things where I was to­tally dis­ori­ented. I couldn’t re­mem­ber

any­thing, even the most ba­sic of plays,” Burn said.

In ad­di­tion to not be­ing able to play, he started strug­gling in other ar­eas, in­clud­ing his school work.

One of the rea­son Burns joined Teachaids is to make sure what hap­pened to him does not hap­pen to other stu­dents.

Ac­cord­ing to Teachaids, 1 in 5 high school ath­letes will suf­fer a con­cus­sion. While most con­cus­sions will heal within 10 days, most are not aware of the lat­est science

con­cern­ing preven­tion and treat­ment of con­cus­sions. If not prop­erly treated, a con­cus­sion can leave a stu­dent with last­ing psy­chi­cal, emo­tional and cog­ni­tive ef­fects.

Us­ing Ocu­lus head­sets, stu­dents are placed in a vir­tual foot­ball game where an op­pos­ing player smashes into them re­sult­ing in the in­jury. A player can choose to remove them­selves from the game or keep play­ing. If they keep play­ing, they re­ceive a sec­ond in­jury that lands them in the hospi­tal. Stu­dents are then lead through a ques­tion-an­dan­swer por­tion that teaches them the signs of a con­cus­sion

and what they should do if the be­lieve they have re­ceived a con­cus­sion.

“Today marks a his­toric mo­ment,” Burns said. “Arkansas be­comes the first state in the coun­try to pro­vide VR based con­cus­sion ed­u­ca­tion to ev­ery school.”

Symp­toms of a con­cus­sion can in­clude black­ing out, dis­ori­en­ta­tion, lack of con­cen­tra­tion and poor bal­ance, how­ever, even if a stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ences one or more of these symp­toms, they do not rec­og­nize it as a con­cus­sion sys­tem. They also may not re­port the symp­toms for fear of los­ing play­ing time or not re­al­iz­ing the harm

they could be do­ing to them­selves that could last the rest of their lives.

All schools in the state will be re­ceiv­ing the equip­ment free of charge for stu­dents to use. That pro­gram is jointly spon­sored by the Arkansas Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, Arkansas Depart­ment of Health, the Arkansas Ac­tiv­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion and Teachaids.

The ini­tia­tive was launched in 2015 by Gov. Asa Hutchin­son to help the Arkansas Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion re­ceive the VR equip­ment for ev­ery school in the state.

DANA GUTHRIE/SPE­CIAL to The Saline Courier

Bryant High School foot­ball player Ca­trell Wal­lace tries out the VR equip­ment that teaches stu­dents con­cus­sion ed­u­ca­tion. Thanks to a pro­gram spon­sored by nu­mer­ous groups, in­clud­ing the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, the equip­ment will be pro­vided to ev­ery school in the state free of charge.

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