Lately, concussions have dominated the national sports headlines. The concussion discussion has primarily targeted football, specifically the National Football League (NFL). Attorneys have filed numerous class action lawsuits on behalf of a myriad of former players due to the lasting effects of concussions they’ve suffered.
Suddenly, head injuries have become a big deal.
In addition to the lawsuits, a number of modern day celebrities have expressed their apprehension about allowing their children to play football. Kurt Warner, Bart Scott, and Drew Brees have all publicly questioned the wisdom (or lack thereof) of letting their sons play football. Tom Brady’s father has even weighed in, saying perhaps we should restrict children from playing football until around the age of 13 or 14, when their bodies are more fully developed.
Unfortunately, concussions are not restricted to the gridiron. They occur in many other contact sports, such as soccer, basketball, and hockey, as well as non-contact activities: the playground, bicycling, etc.
In a 2012 article written for the American College of Sports Medicine, Tracey Covassin, Ph.D., ATC and Robert Elbin, M.A. estimate that 1.6 to 3 MILLION sports-related concussions occur annually. Of that near 3 million, almost 9% (about 270,000) are high school athletes.
So, as a parent, what does this mean to you?
Does this mean your child shouldn’t play football? That decision is up to you. Here’s what you should know, though.
What Is a Concussion?
Essentially, a concussion is a collision between the brain and the skull. It can occur as a result of a blow to the head, or, in some cases, when an individual comes to a sudden stop and the brain continues to “move”.
How do I know if my kid has had a concussion?
You can look for numerous clues, some more obvious than others. If your child takes a hard blow to the head, that’s an obvious sign, though it doesn’t necessarily guarantee he’ll suffer a concussion.
Learn and watch for these physical signs and symptoms:
- Dilated eyes
- Uncharacteristic sweating
- Lack of cognitive awareness
- Loss of consciousness
How do I prevent concussions?
While you can’t guarantee that you will prevent concussions, you can reduce the risk. Make sure your son wears all of his equipment properly. Does his helmet fit? Is he wearing a mouth guard?
In addition to wearing the proper equipment, athletes should practice and execute proper form. Sloppy technique can increase the risk of injury to self or a fellow competitor.
The Bottom Line
Any sport comes with a degree of risk of injury. As a parent, you have some recourse.
- Know the coach’s philosophy on injuries and plans for treatment.
- Get your child to practice! The more they practice, the better their technique. The better the technique, the lower the risk of injury.
- Know and enforce the rule that any time a concussion occurs – participation immediately ends until cleared by a medical professional.
- Know the signs of a concussion and make your young athlete aware of the signs and symptoms as well.
In addition to representing a fun, wholesome way to stay active, sports can cause a lot of headache, but with a bit of education and precaution you can reduce the risk and stress of sports.
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