Essentia Healths Comprehensive concussion program brings athletes back safely to the sport

Monday, December 28, 2015

It was the high school football section finals and Esko sophomore Nick Emanuel, a wide receiver, was about to make a catch.

“I was running down the sideline to catch the pass, and then got hit,” he recalls.

As his dad, Brad Emanuel, rushed to his side, Nick lay briefly on the turf, and then sat up. At first, it looked like he just took a hard hit, but soon Nick knew, something wasn’t right.

“My eyes started to hurt from the bright lights, so I knew something was up then,” he says.

Nick had a suffered a concussion.

Last year in Minnesota alone, approximately 3,000 high school athletes suffered a concussion. Essentia has been working for years to prevent, identify, and treat the injury in athletes. Working with area high schools, Essentia athletic trainers like Tom Nooyen perform a baseline impact test at the start of each sports season. The computerized test helped Nick’s care team, including Dr. Kanoff and Essentia Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Kenji Sudoh, gauge his recovery.

“Essentia Health provides the most current program for evaluation and management of concussion injury,” says Dr. Kanoff. “Baseline impact testing establishes a reliable, comparable measurement of cognitive abilities.”

The testing compares students’ cognitive and exertional responses before and after an injury. It is offered at Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic. The health system also makes the test available in most high school athletic programs. In addition, younger persons and those without access to the test in school can get baseline testing at Park Avenue Fitness in Cloquet.

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