By: Jason Rantala
Concussions in sports have come under increased focus over the years.
Most recently, former linebacker and sports legend Junior Seau was diagnosed with a brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head, believed to have led to his suicide in 2012.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association says they've been ahead of the curve when it comes to concussion awareness.
From banning helmet to helmet hits and spearing in the 1970s, to producing educational videos, the IHSAA says high schools across the state have been at the forefront of concussion awareness.
Beste says officials and coaches now look for the immediate signs like concentration problems, dizziness, confusion, vision and memory problems.
Even headaches are looked at as a concussion symptom.
In Iowa, if a concussion is suspected, the player is immediately taken out of the game and can't return until cleared by a health care provider.
"The coach doesn't make that determination, an official doesn't make that determination. It has to be someone who's licensed in the state of Iowa to make that determination," said IHSAA Assistant Executive Director Alan Beste.
Doctors say it's so important to pay attention to signs, since it's that second hit, known as Second Impact Syndrome, that can be so devastating.
"Studies show that that second concussive symptom, if it occurs while you're having some of the symptoms of the first concussive episode, it can have some detrimental effects," said Dr. Jeffery Pederson with Mercy Medical Center.
Beste says increased recognition of symptoms is also in part thanks to increased education.
The association posts concussion info on their website and holds meetings to educate one another.
"The big take home message is a concussion isn't just a ding, or I got my bell rung, you have to take it seriously," said Beste.