Kids and Concussions - Are You Ready for Some Football?
Recent headlines about concussions and links to depression and possibly suicide are scaring parents. Many are thinking twice about encouraging kids to play football and other contact sports. Serious injury is on the line.
Happy is also on the line
Happiness means doing what you love. If your child loves football you may be faced with a tough choice. Perhaps knowing a few facts will help you choose well for you and your child.
Concussion is . . .
First, you’ll need to understand what a concussion really is. A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body and can be difficult to diagnose. According to the Mayo Clinic, parents and coaches should seek emergency care for a child who has suffered a blow to the head and who has these and other symptoms:
- Headache worsening over time
- Changes in behavior, irritability, fussiness
- Changes in physical coordination, dizziness
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision, dilated pupils, unequal size pupils
- Blood or fluid from nose or ears
- Large head bumps or bruises on other than the forehead
Next, you’ll need to be comfortable that the coaching staff responsible for your child can ensure the safest possible play. The Annual Survey of Football Injury Research is a great resource for safety recommendations. Below are a few biggies that you can ask the coaches about:
- Proper neck strengthening exercises so kids can hold heads firmly erect when making contact.
- Emphasized training in fundamental skills, particularly blocking and tackling.
Contact should always be made with the head-up, never with the top of the head/helmet.
- Coaches and parents should know how to properly fit equipment, especially helmets, and take special care to check each player.
- A player showing signs of head trauma should receive immediate medical attention and should not be allowed to return to play without physician permission. Coaches should never make the call.
Second Impact Syndrome, a second hit before full concussion recovery, most often results in death.
Care for kids
A kid can suffer a head injury playing football, soccer, lacrosse, or falling out of bed. You should know what to do just in case. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child who has suffered any head trauma should avoid loud music, computer, and TV if it increases the symptoms. Additionally, modify school work, recess, and gym participation, even postponing tests if needed. “Any worsening of concussion symptoms or changes in behavior (e.g. agitation, grogginess, disorientation) should be immediately reported to your doctor.”Continued on the next page