After the concussion, Virginia’s medical staff ran a battery of tests on McCartin. On the day before Virginia’s season opener, he was told he would not be cleared to play football again. Ever.
Now McCartin has moved on, embracing his situation the best he can. The Virginia coaches are keeping him involved with the team’s day-to-day activities, and that helps. But still . . .
“I mean, I guess it’s kind of still something I’m dealing with today, you know?” said McCartin, who is from Warrenton and was an honorable mention All-Met at Fauquier High. “I still come to practice, and I still go to games. I just can’t play anymore. I have a different role with the team now. It’s just something that, it’s a day-by-day process, week-by-week.”
Thanks in large part to a greater push to educate Virginia’s student-athletes on the symptoms and dangers of concussions, more players are reporting head injuries, which enables quicker treatment.
John MacKnight, Virginia’s co-medical director of sports medicine, said the football team’s medical staff has diagnosed 12 concussions since the start of training camp. Last year, 13 concussions were diagnosed all season.
“I think they’re becoming more comfortable with the sense that it’s important to report” concussions, MacKnight said. “We’re seeing more concussions at earlier stages now than we did before.”
McCartin suffered his first collegiate concussion Oct. 16, 2010, on a kickoff return against North Carolina.
“I just went and hit some guy,” McCartin said, “and I was just kind of out of it.”
McCartin said he experienced no enduring effects of the concussion and, after taking a number of tests to ensure his cognitive function had returned to preseason levels, he played in the final five games of the 2010 season.
Everything was fine until he went flying down the field during training camp last month. He collided with a teammate and suffered his second concussion in 10 months.
This time the headache lingered and McCartin’s cognitive scores took much longer to return to the baseline levels that were recorded before the season. Eventually, he was sent to the neurology department at the university’s hospital, where he underwent further diagnostic testing.
On Sept. 2, the day before Virginia’s season opener, McCartin met with MacKnight, Virginia’s top two athletic trainers and two doctors from the neurology department.