Concussion concerns: Doctor talks about real possibility of injuries on the field

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The injury of a Mentor High School student on the football field is raising questions and concerns about high school football injuries.

Dr. Richard Figler, co-medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Concussion Center, told FOX 8 he has seen almost a thousand concussions from football collisions this past year.

"The force that happens when those two helmets hit, there's a linear force and a rotational force that happens as well.  When those two line up to each other, the force goes to the helmet and then it goes either to the neck; the neck goes back and forward, or the skull can get hit and it compresses and causes a spinal injury," Dr. Figler said.

He spoke on the case of Matt Gianfagna, who was involved in a helmet-to-chest collision with another player Thursday. "It sounds like they did the right thing with this kid.  They saw him fall down, was unconscious.  And you would think, 'oh, it's a concussion.' But there are other things that happen in violent collisions including potential brain bleeds, skull fractures, and cervical spine injuries as well."

At first, Gianfagna's overall movement was limited, but he did have feeling in his hands and arms and eventually was able to move his toes.

Dr. Figler said that's a positive sign. He works to make contact sports as safe as possible.

"There is an inherent risk of injury when you are going to collide heads with somebody else.  We teach first, make sure your helmet fits properly, making sure you use the proper tackling technique.  Also make sure the medical team is well aware in a potentially catastrophic situation to make sure the athlete is as safe as possible."

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