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Salt Lake County Hopes to Curb Brain Injuries

Ars Electronica via Creative Commons

It’s Brain Injury Awareness Month and Salt Lake County is putting a spotlight on concussions and how to prevent them.

Allyson Barraza, a sophomore at Clearfield High School suffered a concussion while playing soccer in 2013. She says she put off treatment at first but the symptoms progressed.

“My friends noticed that I wasn’t as happy as I usually was,” Barraza says. “I was always irritable with my parents. Just mad a lot.”

Now Barraza has a message for her peers.

“If you do have a concussion, don’t hide it because it will affect you later and you’re development as you grow up,” Barraza says.

Thousands of Utahns are hospitalized every year with head injuries that are the result of sports or recreational activity accidents. Kevin Condra manages the Injury Prevention Program at the Salt Lake County Health Department. He’s working with Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation and the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah to improve education for volunteer coaches and staff at county rec centers.

“There is an inherent risk in every sport that there may be a head injury,” Condra says. “But proper technique, proper practicing and proper education by coaches will go a long way to try to reduce those and hopefully prevent them.”

Condra says recent attention about head injuries in the NFL has raised awareness about concussions but there is still a lot of work to be done to help youth leaders especially understand brain trauma.

He says the sport that presents the most head injuries is football. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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