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Fla. Bill Protects Student Athletes From Concussions

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Long gone are the days of "shaking it off" and playing through a sports injury.  As more and more concussions are being diagnosed in high school sports, many more athletes are sitting on the sidelines.  This is in large part due to both a new law and more coaches and trainers being trained on the condition.

South Miami High School quarterback Oscar Piloto suffered a hard hit in a football game during the second week of September.  On the third play of the game, he was rammed in the head and went down.

"I recall going through the hole and watching my lineman kind of stand there because he blocked the wrong way. And then when I went through the hole past him, I saw a linebacker coming at me, so that's when I tried to get down," said Piloto.

Piloto's mom Whalkys Rodriguez watched from the stands.

"I saw it.  I know it was bad," she told CBS 4.

But Piloto didn't stay down.  He got right back up and continued to play on.  This time, Piloto was hit hard two more times – one of them jarring his head and back.

"I was looking on the sidelines and stuff like that," Oscar remembers.  "I was trying to see, 'Does the light bother me? I'm not nauseous, I'm not dizzy, I don't have blurry vision,' so I just continued to play because it was just a headache. "

That headache gradually got worse, but for the most part Piloto said he was okay for the rest of the weekend.

When he went back to practice the following Monday and was hit again, he knew then there was something definitely wrong.

He was dizzy, his vision was blurred, he couldn't focus and his balance was off.

Mary Medina, the school's head athletic trainer gave him the concussion standard 'King-Devick' test.

"That is a short 32 second test where they read numbers and Oscar was off by a couple seconds," said Medina.

The test measured his ability to think and respond to a series of questions that he'd already taken in the past.  Since he already knew the answers, he shouldn't have had any difficulty; but that wasn't the case.

"We pulled him!" said Medina.

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A concussion is caused by a violent jarring or shaking of the head, which results in a disturbance of brain function. The brain collides with the skull, which can cause bruising, torn tissue and swelling. Doctors report undiagnosed concussions can put someone at risk for brain damage and even disability.

Piloto was sent to the University of Miami's sports medicine clinic in downtown Miami.  The clinic sees more than 500 cases each year and the majority of them are caused from football injuries.

"You may see a personality change, you may see them thinking slower, also having trouble putting words together," said Dr. Gillian Hotz.  She helps the treat the psychological effects a concussion can have on a patient.

Dr. Kester Nedd takes care of the physical injuries of the patients.  He performed some simple tests on Piloto and determined that his injury was slowly improving.  Nedd told Piloto and his mom that he'll need to remain off the football field for a total of two and a half weeks.

"I feel much better," said Rodriguez.  "I know he's in good hands and that I'm doing the right thing by checking him."

At the game following his concussion, Piloto wasn't happy that he hds to sit on the sidelines and cheer his team on from the bench. However, everyone involved, including his doctors, coaches, trainer and parents, agreed it's the best thing for his health and the future of his athletic career.

On July 1st 2012, Florida's youth athlete concussion bill went into effect. The bill prevents coaches and trainers from allowing athletes to continue playing if they simply suspect a head injury.  The athlete is not allowed to return to the sport until getting clearance from a medical doctor.

In Piloto's case, he was given the all clear on September 30th.  His first game back with the team was on October 8th.


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