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Concussions Get a Closer Look


High school football in Nebraska wrapped up for the season on Tuesday in a year when coaches, players and parents have given the potential for concussions extra scrutiny.

If you get a concussion and it's noticed, you can't just get back into the game anymore.

Nate Wagner tells us, "I was doing a tackling drill full-speed and helmet-to-helmet and fell to the ground. Thought I was going to throw up. Didn't know where I was. I was dizzy."

In August, the Westside sophomore lineman took such a hard hit in football practice that he couldn't even remember what he ate for lunch. It's the kind of concussion story we're hearing more and more from athletes around the country.

From coaches to trainers to parents and the teens themselves the term walk it off doesn't much apply anymore.

Nate said, “I was worried that it wasn't getting better very fast."

It took him more than a month to recover this time. His parents brought him to the Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital. Dr. Rebecca Lancaster has seen dozens of teens for similar problems.

“Often times they're complaining of headache, dizziness and lack of focus and they don't feel well and they don't know why," she said.

In this case, the family knew why. Nate had taken a blow to the head and the tests proved it. His memory and reaction time barely registered on the computer. That worried his family.

Nate’s father, Jeff Wagner said, “I came to the realization that if football is over with, I can live with that. I don't want to lose a son who is able to think and do school work and be productive."

Nate plans to be playing football again next year.

“I'd be pretty hard to deal with if I couldn't play football anymore,” he said but he realizes there's more to life.

Just how many concussions a person can withstand is a murky area.

"That's a good question,” Dr. Lancaster said. “I'm not sure we have a solid answer in the research for that. But we do know we want the athletes to recover in between every concussion."


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