It’s estimated that one in five high school athletes will suffer a concussion during sports season. Younger athletes have the highest rate of concussions. While more perceived contact sports like football are thought to be the highest risk for a potential concussion, all sports carry a similar risk and demand similar precaution and treatment. As a parent, your first instinct might be to ban your child from playing sports altogether. But is that really necessary? No. Why do we say this?
For one thing, if you encourage your child to play safely and receive training in head injury prevention, you can minimize risk. And if your child does happen to suffer from a concussion, there are steps you can take to ensure that they heal as quickly and as completely as possible.
Play it Safe
Currently, the only cure for concussions is prevention. So how can your child avoid serious brain injury? Encourage him or her to:
- Wear appropriate safety equipment such as a helmet. Make sure to wear it properly.
- Follow the rules of the game to avoid accidents. Always be a good sport.
- Learn proper technique for the game and use it.
- Before playing, identify any potential dangers such as uneven areas in the playing field or unpadded end posts.
If your child does everything they can to play safely, they are more likely to avoid potentially life-changing head injuries. What if there’s an accident out of their control? You and your child should both know the signs of a concussion. That way, you’ll know when it’s time to seek medical attention.
Signs of a Concussion
While some symptoms do appear right away, others may surface later. That’s why it’s so important that you keep track of potential head injuries and know what to look for thereafter. Otherwise, you could dismiss a red flag as an unrelated, minor issue.
No matter when these symptoms appear, get your child to the doctor as quickly as possible.
- Foggy mind
- Difficulty remembering
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and vomiting (usually takes place shortly after the incident)
- Sensitivity to light
- Feeling off-balance
- Overly emotional
- Trouble getting to sleep
- Sleeping excessively or not enough
After the Injury
If your child is found to have a concussion, what next? The doctor will advise you on what kinds of activities should be avoided so as not to task the brain too much. Rest is the most important thing in the brain’s healing process. That means returning to normal activities gradually instead of all at once.
Yes, your child may be anxious to get back in the game. That’s understandable. But their health is more important and returning too soon can slow down recovery. Before they get back to sports, they need to be fully recovered. And that doesn’t just mean when they feel better than they did before. They should be cleared by a medical professional before resuming such physically and mentally demanding activities.
Fall sports season is just around the corner. If your child plans to participate, why not take some time now to review with them how to handle and, ideally, avoid a concussion? Having that information fresh in mind now and throughout the season could be the difference between injury and no injury. Encourage your kid to put safety first!