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Apex Oregon helping the fight against head injuries with baseline testing

Concussions are injuries that can easily go undiagnosed, yet have the grimmest of consequences.

Brock Monger, doctor of physical therapy and co-owner of Apex Physical Therapy in Madras, is on a quest to make sure concussion are diagnosed early and treated properly.

Monger, who volunteers his time and medical expertise to be the Madras High School athletic trainer, has seen an improvement in people's awareness of concussions during his five years as athletic trainer, but there is more to be done.

"Better awareness by coaches and administrators, thanks to the efforts by leaders in the health care community, has helped change the sports culture from 'getting your bell rung,' to 'When in doubt, sit them out,'" Monger said. "The statistics are gradually changing for the better."

Brock Monger, doctor of physical therapy and co-owner of Apex Physical Therapy in Madras, is helping lead an effort aimed at concussion awareness amongst local high school athletes.According to the National Athletic Training Association, 4-6 percent of high school football players sustain concussions each year, and studies suggest nearly half the athletes don't report the signs to medical personnel.

In order to combat that, Monger and Jefferson County Middle School physical education teacher Brian Stenberg (a licensed athletic trainer himself), will conduct preseason concussion baseline tests that go well beyond the cliché, "How many fingers am I holding up?"

They will also hold an informational session for parents of all high school athletes 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Madras High School.

"We're doing our best to educate the community, especially parents, about concussions," Monger said. "We're also going to discuss why we're doing preseason testing with ImPACT again this year."

ImPACT, which stands for Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, is one of the world's most widely-used computerized concussion evaluation systems, and has proven to be critical for concussion management worldwide. ImPACT establishes a baseline of variables for each player through a set of neuro-cognitive tests. The tests can later be administered in order to quickly diagnose a suspected concussion.

The Center Foundation, based in Bend, initially brought the ImPACT system to Madras as part of their concussion safety outreach five years ago. Monger and Stenberg will administer the tests.

Even with advancements in medical technology, Monger said the best precautions to take against concussions are the obvious ones.

"The best concussion prevention methods are proper equipment and technique," he said. "There's always going to be a risk, and that's why we take a multi-faceted approach to concussion prevention, diagnosis and treatment."

Through education, testing with assessment tools like ImPACT, rapid diagnosis and healing, Monger said this is going to help keep all athletes at Madras High School safe, no matter what sport they play.

"As a community, this puts us all in a positive direction when it comes to concussions, and ensuring the long-term health of our student-athletes," he said.

Stenberg agreed with Monger, and took it a step further to say how the trickle down from professional sports has impacted the researched concussions.

“Concussions aren’t a new thing,” Stenberg said, “but what they do to someone is. From the NFL, down to college and then to high school, over the last decade concussion awareness has come a long way.”

Apex Physical Therapy offers all Madras and Culver high school athletes a complimentary "Injured Athlete Assessment," which is designed to encourage the timely evaluation and treatment of aches, pains and movement limitations related to extracurricular activities.

More sideline help for MHS athletes

To help ensure the safety and health of high school athletes on a day-to-day basis, Brian Stenberg, a certified athletic trainer and physical education teacher at Jefferson County Middle School, will assist Brock Monger with athletic training duties this year.

"I'm excited about the partnership," said Monger, who has been volunteering his time to be the school's athletic trainer since 2007. "The daily access will be so critical for the athletes' safety and performance."

Stenberg will be able to provide care for athletes during practices on a daily basis, something Monger couldn't do because he was simply too busy with other clients at his business, Apex Physical Therapy. The care has always been free of charge, and will continue to be, Monger said.

Stenberg helped with athletic training duties last year, mostly with the boys and girls basketball teams, and is very excited to be partnering with Monger again.

“We need to meet the needs of the athletes,” Stenberg said. “It’s a conversation we’ve had for awhile, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Stenberg received his athletic training and undergraduate degree in 2010 from Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., and his Masters in teaching from Western Oregon University in 2012.

Monger said having someone with advanced medical training on site every day will help the athletes get answers about injuries, recover more quickly – and in some cases – avoid injuries all together.

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