Allegheny provides information for NCAA concussion investigation

Eylie Buehler, Editor-in-Chief

Allegheny College was contacted in order to provide “directory-type” information for student athletes who participate in an NCAA sport in order to aid a court case into the investigation of student-athlete concussions, according to an email sent to all current and former Allegheny athletes. Allegheny is not a party to this legal action, according to Eileen Petula, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the college.

The email was sent on Wednesday, Feb. 8 notifying them that Allegheny received a federal court subpoena for information about them and that the college would be complying fully.

“I am writing to notify you that Allegheny College (“Allegheny”) has received (and has complied with) a federal court subpoena requesting information about Allegheny’s current and former student-athletes in connection with the proposed settlement of the above-referenced class action lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. (Allegheny is not a party to this lawsuit.) The subpoena sought production of the following last known directory-type information for all student athletes who participated in any NCAA sanctioned sport at Allegheny: first and last name and middle initial; last known street address, city, state, and zip code; email address(es); telephone number(s); first year attended; and NCAA-sanctioned sports played,” the email from Petula read.

The email also provided a link to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation website.  The website says it was designed to provide information to students about a settlement of a class action lawsuit titled “In re National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Litigation,” which was brought to court by two former NCAA student-athletes in the Northern District of Illinois.

“If you played a National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”)-sanctioned sport at an NCAA member school, you may be entitled to free medical screening and may receive free medical testing, known as ‘medical monitoring,’ up to two times over the next 50 years,” the website says.

Students who participate must have been a member of an NCAA-sanctioned sport prior to July 15, 2016.  Participants do not need to have been diagnosed with a concussion to participate, according to the website.

While Allegheny is not directly involved in the case, the health and safety of all student-athletes is taken very seriously, according to Petula.  She said that the college reviews all processes and procedures on a regular basis to be sure that the best practices are used in concussion protocol and treatment.

“Allegheny has a thorough concussion management plan in place that begins with removal of a student-athlete from practice or competition immediately upon the recognition of signs or symptoms or behavior consistent with a head injury or concussion. Student-athletes are then evaluated and monitored throughout their recovery and are referred to a neurologist when necessary. The team physician or physician’s designee has the final authority to determine when the student-athlete can return to play,” Petula said.

Hannah Eisemann, ’17, plays soccer for the Allegheny women’s team and has received a total of four concussions in her life, two of which were from soccer. She said only one of her concussions happened at college, which was during a pickup game unrelated to varsity practice.

“I broke my facial bone along with the concussion so I addressed [the injury] immediately,” Eisemann said.

However, immediate diagnoses of a concussion is not always the case. Kayla Dantona, ’17, also plays for the Allegheny women’s soccer team and has had a total of two concussion is her lifetime — both in high school for her travel soccer team.

“Initially no, I didn’t tell anyone my head was hurting because I didn’t want to come out of the game,” Dantona said. “Within the next few days afterward I went to the doctor and the first [concussion] I was out for maybe two to three weeks and the second one was more like six weeks.”

Dantona said she played with her concussion for a day before finally seeing a doctor. She said she did not want to have to be benched for the remainder of the tournament.

“Not right after it happened, but the next day I had a really bad headache and knew something was wrong so I was more reluctant to head balls or go into tackles as hard. And the other time I was dizzy while playing, so I’m sure it affected my playing somehow,” Dantona said.

Eisemann said that because her concussion at Allegheny happened in the off-season there is not much trainers could do.

“Our trainer suggested that I get a concussion head band that I wore for games, but that’s it,” Eisemann said.

While both players have received multiple concussions they both agreed that the injuries do not affect their playing now.

While Petula said that the school is not at liberty to provide medical statistics about the number of concussions student-athletes at Allegheny have had, the number of concussions in NCAA sports has increased over the past several years, according to their website.

The NCAA website also stated that in May 2014, $30 million were given to fund research in a clinical study on concussions and head impact exposure. They said their aim is to change the safety behaviors in college sports surrounding concussions in particular.