Posts from 2018-10-08

Concussions in Young Athletes (API)

Concussions in today’s sports world is a rising danger to athletes. While concussions have always been a part of sports, medical personnel did not know the extent of the dangers for a long time. A concussion is one of the most serious risks to young athletes and is seen in both individual and team sports. It can be caused by a direct blow to the head, the jerking of the head, or repeated mild blows to the head. The last of these is most commonly seen in sports such as football or boxing but can also be seen in many other scenarios. However, no matter how the concussion was received it is vital to treat as quickly as possible.

Who is at risk?

In simple terms, everyone. Young people are at more risk than adults as their brains are still forming, and the concussion might last longer in younger people for this reason. According to the Center for Disease Control over 173,000 people ages 0-19 go to the emergency room every year got a concussion. The majority of these concussions are from biking, football, playground injuries, basketball, and soccer. It is important to recognize that it is not just contact sports that can cause head injuries, but also individual sports and activities that your child may partake in every day such as climbing on the playground. Unfortunately, preventing concussions is nearly impossible to do completely but recognizing the signs and reacting appropriately may be just as important.

Warning signs

It is important for coaches, players, and parents to be aware of the warning signs of concussions. This is especially important for a head injury due to the fact that the person affected may not be thinking as clearly as they otherwise would. Part of the difficulty with identifying concussions, especially during sports, is that symptoms are not always prevalent immediately and could take up to a day to start visibly manifesting. Some of the major warning signs include but are not limited to:

  • Extended headaches
  • Light and Noise sensitivity
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness

Recovery

The most important step if these symptoms are prevalent in a person after receiving a blow to the head is to take them out of the game. No sport is worth the risk of furthering a brain injury, especially in someone whose brain is still developing. If the symptoms continue or there is reasonable suspicion of a concussion it is essential that the person be evaluated by a professional for further instruction. There are a variety of things that the doctor may suggest including rest. While this might sound silly, it is important for the brain to rest, this means no bright screen, sensory overload, or high levels of cognitive activity. These activities may stretch out recovery time and worsen the condition. Every state, excluding Mississippi, has a return to play law, that directs how and when an athlete may return in the case of a head injury. This sets the guidelines for coaches and doctors to ensure that the player does not return too quickly and cause further damage.

In Professional Sports

While concussions were not always known to be as dangerous as they are, it is now evident that steps need to be taken to prevent them. Most professional sports leagues have taken it as their duty to protect the players from brain injury by putting in place certain rules. In basketball and football the players with a suspected brain injury are required to immediately leave the field and pass a concussion test before returning to the play. FIFA World Cup soccer has put in place rules since the series of 68 concussions in the 2014 world cup. These rules include the ability to pass concussion tests and be evaluated by multiple doctors. While this is not full proof, and the player is not required to be taken off the field immediately it is a step in the right direction. If professional athletes are not allowed to play through a concussion, our young athletes should certainly not push themselves to do so.  


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