I work in a high school athletics program. Is there any training I should get to help me better respond to situations where a brain injury may have occurred?
Brain injuries can happen anywhere, but the risk is always higher while participating in sporting activities. The best way to respond to an injury is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Do your best to encourage and enforce safety standards, especially the diligent use of helmets during contact sports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a free toolkit designed for coaches and other individuals involved in school sports programs. It is immediately downloadable, or you can request a copy to be mailed to you.
There is also a 2006 book called The Heads-Up on Sports Concussions that discusses concussions at all levels of sport — from the earliest levels through the professional ranks.
You can also investigate the only specialized training program available to non-medical professionals — the Certified Brain Injury Specialist, or CBIS, which is offered through the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialist. In order to enroll in such a program, you must meet certain criteria and pass a test to receive certification.
Michael Paul Mason is the founding editor of This Land, a monthly magazine based in Tulsa. Mason's first book, Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath, is an exploration into the harsh realities endured by people with brain injury.