Many parents are pulling their kids out of athletic programs because they worry about how the increased level of competition in today’s sports makes them more prone to injuries, particularly concussions.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that affect proper brain function. It’s a blow to the head that typically causes the trauma. However, violent shaking of the head and upper body can also cause concussions. In fact, the word concussion comes from the Latin word concutere which means “to shake violently.”
However, according to Medscape, only 40% of youth concussions are caused by contact sports. The reality is that as kids are so active, they can get a concussion from everyday play or accidents. This doesn’t change the fact that many concussions are from youth sports because of the physicality involved.
The important thing is to educate both athletes and parents about recognizing the signs of a concussion so that they can be reported and treated sooner.
Some people who suffer a concussion may lose consciousness; however, the majority do not. The best person to recognize if they have a concussion is the one who suffered the blow to the head which is why it is vital to educate young athletes to know the signs. Left untreated, those who suffer from a concussion can experience one or a combination of symptoms.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of a concussion. Some will be noticeable immediately after the blow to the head; however, some symptoms can last for days if left untreated:
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Seeing “stars”
- Persistent neck pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Changes in behavior and personality
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty remembering
- Problems concentrating
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty sleeping
- Delayed response to questions
- Sensitivity to light and noise
There are also three different grades for concussions:
Grade 1 – Mild: With grade 1 concussions, there is no loss of consciousness, and the symptoms typically last for less than 15 minutes.
Grade 2 – Moderate: With grade 2 concussions, there is no loss of consciousness yet the symptoms last longer than 15 minutes.
Grade 3 – Severe: In grade 3 concussions, the person loses consciousness for anywhere between a few seconds to just under a minute.
Some head injuries are more severe than others. Concussions are typically not life-threatening; however, leaving them unchecked can lead to something more serious. If you suspect that your child has suffered a concussion, continually monitor them for any signs. Explain what the symptoms are so they can help monitor themselves. Observe if there are changes in their behavior and if there is repeated vomiting or if their headache worsens.
Most importantly, never return an athlete who may have suffered a traumatic blow to the head back on the field or court. Before they return to play, they should be medically evaluated by a health professional and cleared.