The number of concussions sustained by athletes at the College have remained steady this year. 

According to Interim Athletic Director Tim Ryan, the College has not seen a noticeable increase in the number of concussions, though there has been a slight uptick this fall.

“It’s probably a function of two things,” said Ryan.

“We have increased education and we have an increased number of participants in our contact sports.”

However, the athletic department declined to provide a specific number of concussions that have occurred so far this year. 

Last fall, the Orient reported that 25 students had sustained concussions as of November 2011, down from 39 in 2010.

Since instituting a second sideline test a few years ago, the College’s protocol regarding testing, diagnosis, treatment and return has not been altered. 

The major focus has been educating athletes about concussions.

The result has been an increase in the number of potential concussion reporting even if the final diagnosis is otherwise. 

“When you educate people tend to report more and that’s what we want. People don’t realize that a concussion can develop in many ways. It’s not just when you get knocked out or have a loss of consciousness,” said Head Trainer Dan Davies. 

All athletes are required to attend a seminar at the beginning of the year in which they are shown a presentation about concussions and attend a panel discussion with Davies, current students and alums who suffered concussions, and various members of the administration. 

The College has also invested funding into purchasing the very latest equipment to protect its athletes. Riddell Speed Helmets are worn by the members of the football team and are rated as the best helmets for protecting against head trauma. 

Despite all the equipment, tests and education, stories like the one experienced by Steve Buduo ’14 show that in the end, a large part of prevention is still up to individual athletes. 

Buduo, who was recruited to play football and baseball for the College, sustained at least two concussions in high school. 

He was cleared to play for Bowdoin, but at a Friday practice early in his first football season as a first year, he suffered a concussion. 

“I didn’t think it was a serious thing. I had a headache, was tired, but nothing out of the ordinary. And as a football player, as an athlete, you sort of push through,” said Buduo. “If I hadn’t gone back Saturday, I probably would’ve been okay in a few weeks.”

After suffering a second concussion in practice, Buduo explained that Davies called him over, noticing something was wrong. 

Buduo was diagnosed with Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), a rapid and dangerous swelling of the brain caused by the impact of a second concussion before the symptoms of an earlier one subside. 

After taking a leave of absence, Buduo returned to Bowdoin with challenges that he says were made far easier by the College.

“They were really supportive of me and didn’t push me back too quickly. They got me a lot of help with tutors, seeing a counselor and a neurologist regularly,” said Buduo.

According to Buduo, it took him nearly eight months before he was symptom free. He no longer plays football or baseball nor will he be able to for the foreseeable future.

“People need to speak up when something’s wrong. You can’t see a concussion like a broken leg or an arm. Only you know and you only get one brain,” he said.