Dr. Shane V. Caswell vaguely remembers many years ago, playing ice hockey, hitting the boards headfirst, and losing consciousness. He was carried off the ice and returned to the game about five minutes later. Fortunately, times are changing, and people realize that a concussion is a brain injury that should be taken seriously.
Lucky for Dr. Caswell, PhD, ATC, CSCS Professor, the team mom insisted that he be taken out of play. However, he was back on the ice the next day. Years later, as he was studying to become a sports medicine professional, he reflected on that experience.
“As we learn more about concussion, I reflect back on this experience and realize how poorly my situation was managed because at the time we just didn’t know any better and that I’m really grateful to have had a good outcome,” he says.
It’s possible that this early experience helped inform his choice to focus professionally on pediatric sports medicine and in particular risk reduction of head injuries. Lately, he’s also been busy spearheading the Virginia Concussion Initiative, a collective approach by medical professionals and educators, with key input and information provided by parents and athletic coaches, to develop concussion protocols that work best for the state’s school districts and provide a quality standardized level of student care.
The initiative’s tagline is “Supporting Young Minds of Virginia” and the overarching goal is to empower Virginia schools and their local communities to successfully implement best practices for concussion prevention and management, says Dr. Caswell.
It’s been particular crucial to work closely with the schools to gather input from those working on the ground who want to ensure that the students in their schools can participate in school sports safely and that proper concussion management is in place, that it is supported by all key stakeholders, and that best practices are made available as they become available. “Obviously, implementation will vary across school districts because our state has so many different demographic regions. Guidelines are being developed in a way that schools can implement them in a matter that is realistic for their particular situation,” says Dr. Caswell.