School has started, and that means sports; football, soccer, and more! Sports helps teach your children valuable lessons about self-discipline, teamwork, and fitness. However, you have also probably either seen them get injured, or imagined a broken leg as a sweaty group of athletes pile on you kid.
250,000 young people visit the emergency room each year in the United States* because of sport or recreation-related brain injuries, and this represents only a small portion of total concussions.
Left untreated, concussions can have devastating results, including;
- Learning and Concentration Difficulties
- Disturbed sleep
- Memory loss
- Early Diagnosis of Alzheimers and Parkinsons
- Cerebral bleeding (often fatal)
This is what you can do to protect your children:
#1: Help Your Kids Understand the Significance of Concussions
In many High School sports, the amount of concussions a player has received is flaunted as a testament to their toughness and stamina. What those players do not understand is that the more concussions they receive, the more likely they are to suffer from severe and devastating symptoms in the years to come.
Discuss with your children the impacts of brain injury. Explain what could happen if they fail to play with proper padding. The movie Concussion may be a great conversation starter with older children.
#2: Learn to recognize concussion symptoms and Do NOT Return to Game Play
Many young athletes, and unfortunately, some coaches and parents, prioritize the game above health. After an injury, players assure their coaches they are fine so they can get more playing time. Review with your children the indications of a concussion and emphasize what they are risking—their long-term mental health—when they return to game play. It may be important to ensure the coach is not applying additional pressure for your child to play while injured. Keep in mind that 33% of concussions occur during practice.
#3 Call your Doctor
Concussions may be more dangerous than they initially appear. After a head injury, call a doctor. He/she can accurately diagnose the severity of the brain trauma and recommend immediate medical assistance when it is needed. Utah law and the US Congress has deemed this an important enough issue that they have outlawed players from returning to the game without a doctor’s note.
#4 Don’t Take Ibuprofen
Mayo clinic reports** that “pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) . . . may increase the risk of bleeding.” Instead, they suggest acetaminophen or Tylenol to alleviate headaches.
#5 Allow Your Brain to Heal
Bench yourself. Without proper downtime, brain injury symptoms and impact can become worse. Do not participate in activities that require thinking or focus (video games, television, schoolwork, computers, reading, etc.). When you return to school, take breaks during the day and ask your teachers for lighter homework assignments.
As you follow these 5 simple steps, you will enjoy this year’s sporting seasons with your children while maintaining the confidence that you are protecting them and their future.