Only On 6: Blood, Sweat & Tears

"I don't remember much about the game itself."

That's how Austin Brock describes an Oct. 14, 2011 game in which the Bowie senior took a hit to the head that he has no memory of.

Family Practice Physician Finbar Woitalla can describe the potential power of the hit.

"A pilot, when they take a sharp turn, they usually have six to nine G's. A concussion can be up to 100 G's," he said.

Austin's concussion was one 2-3 million sports-related concussions suffered each year, according to a Center for Disease Control estimate. Woitalla says the Texoma area sees an above-average amount of concussions because of the high level of competitiveness of Texas sports.

With this generation of athletes, even at the high school level and lower, getting faster, bigger and stronger, concussions are drawing more attention. It's a big buzz word in the NFL, and that attention filters down to college then to high school.

During a concussion, the brain is slamming up against the skull. The cells in the brain become stunned and stop functioning correctly until they have a chance to heal. Woitalla says it takes most kids a week to fully heal and return to the field.

For Austin Brock, his situation was different.

It was a home game for Bowie. Early in the game, Austin took a hit to the head, a concussion that did not get diagnosed, then came the hit that Austin does not remember, a second concussion.

It's called second-impact syndrome, sustaining a concussion before another concussion has the chance to fully heal.

"The results are usually a lot more devastating," Woitalla said. "The recovery takes easily 2-3 times as long."

Austin would miss the rest of his junior season. In addition to the concussion, Austin's right arm was paralyzed for a month because of the position it was in when he made the tackle.

"I just remember adapting to it (the injuries)," Austin said.

Because of the arm injury, simple tasks like tying shoes, buttoning up pants and writing became difficult. Because of the second-impact syndrome, Austin suffered from light sensitivity and rarely did any kind of physical activity.

"It just made me feel helpless, something I'm not used to," he said.

But, Austin would heal and be cleared to return to football. After long, back-and-forth discussions with his parents, the family decided to have Austin return for his senior season.

"I started my football career with them (teammates), and I just felt like I needed to end it with them," he said.

As Austin was recovering, Bowie took steps toward concussion prevention, buying new equipment and concussion-baseline software.

"The coaching staff has been really fantastic," Steve Brock, Austin's father, said. "They told me that when he stepped out onto to the football field this year, that he would be the most expensive player in the history of Bowie football."

That meant a new helmet, special mouthpiece and more for Austin. Bowie also starting using a concussion baseline test.

Players take tests measuring reaction time, coordination, memory and other brain functions at the beginning of the season to create a "baseline". If it's expected that a player may have a concussion, he takes the same tests, and if the results do not match the "baseline", he's not allowed to return to the field.

The baseline testing also helps in concussion recovery, allowing doctors to focus on specific areas if a player is having trouble recovering.

Austin returned to football for the 2012 season, agreeing to a deal with his parents. If he suffered any kind of injury to his head, he would no longer play football afterwards.

"I'd rather him go to college and have his mind in tact then be out there on the football field and come out a vegetable or have some kind of brain damage," Steve Brock said.

Unfortunately, on Sept. 7, Austin's football career came to a close. He took another hit to the head, suffering another concussion.

"(I was) pretty depressed," Austin said. "A senior season is what everyone looks forward to."

For the past year, Austin's injuries created an awareness about concussions in Bowie, a small town where most people know most people. Steve Brock answered a lot of questions regarding concussion and Austin's injuries from other parents.

But, Steve Brock's mindset about football may have changed the most.

"It wakes everyone up," he said. "You're dealing with my generation or older, where getting your bell rung was just a thing, and you went on about your business. Concussions are not something to play around with."

It's that kind of change of mentality that Dr. Woitalla says will help most with concussion prevention.

"People need to realize that you do not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion," he said.

As for Austin, football may be done, but basketball is not. He's currently playing for Jackrabbits.

Despite it all, he says he wouldn't trade in his football experience for anything.