‘Whole lotta Shakin’ Going on:’ Changing the… - Wyoming Medical Center

‘Whole lotta Shakin’ Going on:’ Changing the culture around concussion for athletes of all sports

By Kristy Bleizeffer Dec 11, 2014

Sports equipment

When an athlete blows a knee or tears his Achilles tendon, nobody expects him to finish the game. His limp is visible, and he almost always seeks follow-up medical care. That’s not always true for an athlete suffering from concussion.

Concussions are often silent threats. Symptoms may not be visible to a coach or trainer if an athlete doesn’t lose consciousness. Often, it is left to athletes to report symptoms, some of whom may be reluctant for fear they may miss out on a big game or practice time.

“The old definition of ‘getting your bell rung’ and being able to go back and participate is changing. If you ‘got your bell rung,’ then 99 percent of the time you have been concussed to some degree. Those kids need to be evaluated,” said Frank Martin, athletic trainer for Natrona County High School. “It is not so much the first concussion that we, as athletic trainers, worry about. We worry about the next hit, a day later or a week later, that could cause long-term ill effects from head injuries.”

Don Penney, M.D.

Don Penney, M.D.

On Jan. 19, Wyoming Medical Center and Natrona County School District will present “Whole lotta Shakin’ Going On: Changing the culture around concussion for athletes of all sports.” Neurosurgeon Dr. Don Penney and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Clayton Turner will teach parents, athletes, coaches and physicians to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion while outlining the medical recommendations when concussion is suspected. They’ll also discuss prevention and management of sports-related neck and spine injuries.

The free presentation also features remarks by Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2002 Superbowl champions John Howell (safety) and Joe Jurevicius (wide receiver). A meet-and-greet will follow for autographs and photos.

Clayton Turner, M.D.

Clayton Turner, M.D.

Dr. Penney, who practices at Advantage Orthopedics and Neurosurgery in Casper, will also discuss the physiology of second-impact syndrome (SIS), a dangerous condition in which a second concussion occurs before the symptoms of a previous concussion, no matter how minor, have passed.

“Every year, there are about 19 cases of SIS in the United States, and they are very often fatal. I have been following this now since the early 1980s, and I think what we are seeing is an evolution of our understanding of concussions,” Penney said. “In Casper, I see a strong concussion system already in place by our coaches and our trainers, and I think continuing this education is the right thing to do. Despite all these efforts, I think there are concussions that occur that we may not pick up.”

The purpose of this talk is to promote safe participation in a wide range of sports, not to discourage young athletes from doing the activities they love, organizers agree.

“Being part of a team, just like military service, teaches discipline and dedication,” Martin said. “It’s the idea of belonging to something bigger than yourself. I have been a trainer here for 30 years, and being part of a team is one of the greatest things that a lot of these kids will do.”

All athletes, parents, coaches and local physicians are encouraged to come hear this important information, and we invite all to stay after for a meet-and-greet with the NFL players. Refreshments will be served and we will give away Denver Nuggets, Broncos and Avalanche tickets along with merchandise signed by former Bronco Ed McCaffrey and other NFL stars.

John Howell

John Howell

Joe Jurevicius

Joe Jurevicius

  • When: 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19
  • Where: Parkway Plaza
  • Who: Presenters include Don Penney, a neurosurgeon with Wyoming Brain and Spine Associates in Casper; Dr. Clayton Turner, orthopedic surgeon; John Howell, safety of the 2002 Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and Joe Jurevicius, 2002 Super Bowl champion Buccaneers’ wide receiver.
  • Meet-and-greet: Stay after the presentation for autographs, door prizes and refreshments. Bring a keepsake to have signed!
  • Cost: Free