• Mother says coaches should take concussions more seriously

    By: Linzi Sheldon


    CONCORD, N.C.,None - A Concord woman says her son's football coach failed to take the proper steps to detect a serious brain injury after a game.

    But the coach says he did everything necessary.

    "You hear about football injuries -- you just never think it's going to happen to your child," Amy Gerdeman said.

    Gerdeman said her 15-year-old son, Sean, is not allowed back on a football field after a serious injury during a rough game.

    "Nothing's ever going to replace wrestling or football for me," Sean Gerdeman said. He is no longer allowed to participate in contact sports.

    Over the past few months, she said Sean has jumped from medication to medication to treat migraines and help him concentrate.

    Now that sign-ups have started for spring football with his former team, she said she had to speak out.

    "When you put your kids on the field, you trust the coaches one hundred percent," she said.

    Gerdeman said her son was hit several times during a game on May 7, 2011. She said he even blacked out once.

    Afterward, though, she said his coach didn't seem to be worried that Sean complained of a headache.  

    "The instructions to Sean when he left the game were, 'You had a rough game, go home and take some Motrin,'" she said.

    Six hours later, she said Sean was rushed to the hospital with bleeding on his brain.

    She said his coach should have taken a closer look at him and warned them of the possible dangers.

    "They expect us to already know," Sean said.

    But Coach Robert Ford, director of football for the Carolina Bears, said he followed protocol and took all the steps to check if Sean was okay.

    "His pupils weren't dilated, his speech wasn't slurred. He never said anything about blacking out," Ford said. "I didn't say anything as far as monitoring him for a concussion. We said to watch him to make sure he's OK."

    But the Gerdemans said coaches and the league need to take concussions more seriously and put a bigger emphasis on education for players and families.

    "It really needs to be changed and it needs to be the number one focus," Amy Gerdeman said.

    Ford said while they don't hold a specific class to teach families about concussions, they are mentioned at the beginning of the year when they talk about team rules.

    He said all his coaches are certified, that they also talk to players about the symptoms, and said that he believes adequate information is being given out.

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