Student Athlete Concussions on the Rise in the Permian Basin

By Abby Reed
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Intensity on the field can lead to a trip to the emergency room for local student athletes.  Concussions are on the rise for young athletes in the Permian Basin.

Football players at Odessa High School, are about 4 weeks into the school year, but so far, trainers have treated five concussion cases. 

Athletic trainer Steven Ortiz treats concussions at Odessa High School.  He estimates his department sees between 10 and 12 concussion cases a year.

"Everybody wants to make that highlight hit," Ortiz said.  "Their brain gets jarred around enough that it becomes inflamed and serious consequences can be very life threatening, where everything seems to shut down."

Ortiz said there are specific symptoms to look for: sensitivity to light, ringing in the ears, short term memory loss, and an overall feeling of being disoriented.  When it comes to keeping student athletes on the field, and off the exam table, Ortiz said the best offense is a good defense.

"Better safe to sit them out for one day, than to have some serious reaction, later on. It's always the safest thing to do," Ortiz said.

Excessive concussions can result in severe memory loss, reduced muscle speed and chronic headaches.