GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– As high school football season nears its end, some other school sports are just ramping up.

In this week’s “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, we spoke to an athletic trainer about a hot topic in the world of sports, concussions, and keeping student athletes safe year-round.

There’s been an increase in concussions and injuries requiring surgery for high school athletes.

It’s all part of a study presented this year at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Michael Swanson, an athletic trainer, says concussions can happen often and vary in severity.

He says, “Most of the time we see mild concussions, but every once in a while they can be severe.”

Swanson says concussions are one of the most common injuries that he sees and it’s important for athletes and coaches to take them seriously.

“It is definitely recommended to go to a doctor that has some experience with concussions, so they can give their professional assessment.”

Michael Swanson, Athletic Trainer, Bon Secours St. Francis

To diagnose a concussion, Swanson says a doctor will ask the patient about their symptoms, and test their balance and memory.

He says, “Treatment for concussions is relatively straightforward. It’s pretty much just rest at home.”

But if you experience symptoms like vomiting, failure to stay awake, and extreme confusion– Go to the emergency room.

Swanson recommends all student-athletes get sports physicals before they play, and it’s required by most schools.

“They’ll do a complete body physical where they examine your bones, your heart, and different systems in your body. It’s usually an annual thing,” said Swanson.

A sports physical can help prevent serious injuries and potentially deadly outcomes by catching health conditions sooner rather than later.

“You know, there could be a pre-existing condition that could eventually get worse if you don’t detect it. So, catching it early is extremely important to not let a small issue turn into a big issue.”

Michael Swanson, Athletic Trainer, Bon Secours St. Francis

Swanson says some best practices for student-athletes include cross-training, getting proper sleep, a good diet, and staying hydrated.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.