JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Concern about concussions in middle and high school athletics is growing. The devastating injuries don't have to include a blow to the head and most times don't happen on the football field.
Some 90 percent of concussions are not direct hits to the head and can include blows to the chest or any other area that causes the brain to jolt inside the skull, according to physical therapists. There also doesn't need to be a fracture in the skull for a concussion to occur.
Emily Proehl was an eighth-grader playing soccer for the Jacksonville Football Club last year when she hit her head twice on the ground. It took three months of treatment before she was cleared to play.
"Of course you've always heard about it, but you say, "It's not going to happen to me,'" said Proehl.
More concussions happen in cheerleading, gymnastics and soccer, according to Heartland Rehabilitation physical therapist Julie Tribett.
The Florida High School Athletic Association passed a law last year requiring student-athletes with a concussion to be immediately removed from games and be cleared by a physician before they can return.
"We are trying to put athletic trainers in all the high schools in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas to keep the athletes safe, to prevent injuries," Tribett said.
Tribett added St. Johns County Schools hired athletic trainers, and some other school districts use volunteers trainers.
Proehl was only cleared to play after three months, and before that time she had trouble with short-term memory. Emily's father, David Proehl, who is also the board president for the Jacksonville Football Club, got the message for hundreds of other student athletes too.
"It's been a labor of love for the club, because it's very important that the kids know what the dangers are, the parents know and most importantly the coaches, because the coaches tend to put them right back in, not realizing that they could be putting little Johnny or little Suzy in danger," David Proehl said.
Heartland Rehabilitation is offering complimentary screening so parents and athletes know what to do before an injury happens.
Therapists say early reporting of symptoms are the most important. Most of the time concussions don't lead to a loss of consciousness. Symptoms can include headaches, loss of concentration, nausea, vomiting and lack of sleep.