As player remains in coma, Orange County school board discusses concussions, high school football safety

WTVD logo
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Orange County school board talks concussions
The school board met Monday to discuss concussions and high school sports safety.

HILLSBOROUGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The Orange County School Board met Monday night to talk about concussions.

Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News App

The discussion comes 11 days after an Orange High School junior varsity football player named Thys Oldenburg suffered a head injury during a game against Durham's Hillside High School.

Oldenburg remains in a coma at Duke University Hospital.

RELATED: Orange High School football player injured

On Monday, ABC11 learned that concussions increased among athletes at Orange High.

There were 28 concussions reported among student-athletes at Orange during the 2016-17 school year, up from 11 the previous year and 19 the year before that.

At Monday's meeting, the athletic trainer, Emily Gaddy, talked about the steps in place to monitor injuries, saying they look at data taken from sensors in helmets.

If a player is getting hit too hard, they inspect game video to see what players are doing wrong. If they're using unsafe techniques, the player enters an intervention program.

"It is showing that these interventions work," Gaddy said. She cited numbers that showed pre-intervention that a player was receiving "about 90 Gs (of force) to the front of his face.

"After intervention, he changed, and it was 11 Gs," she added. "So that's a huge difference."

So far, four student-athletes have gone through that intervention program.

Thys Oldenburg remains in a coma at Duke Hospital.

For Thys, however, the future remains uncertain.

His aunt, Cheri Bowers said Monday that the 14-year-old is still in critical condition.

"The family is holding strong," Bowers told ABC11. "They are with him every second. This is a minute by minute ordeal."

As for the report and the school board's safety discussion, Bowers said the conversation is vitally important.

"The risk to our young athletes is undeniably high, and I think safety needs to be an unequivocal priority," she said.

In the meantime, if you'd like to help Oldenburg's family you can donate to a GoFundMe page here.