As fall draws near, high school and college sports practices are now in full swing with many games set to begin this weekend. As a parent, sending your child out onto the field can always be a little frightening but educating my children and myself on sports-related injuries, such as concussions, has helped ease my fears.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and my colleague Dr. Marc DiFazio, director of pediatric neurosciences at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth.
The best defense against concussion is education. I encourage young athletes, parents and coaches to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of concussion. Other important steps include:
- Always wear protective gear that fits correctly.
- Check for a concussion policy with your school or league.
- Athletes need to be upfront if they are experiencing concussion symptoms and be removed from play.
- Prior to practices, ask about baseline testing for athletes. These tests allow for medical professionals to assess brain function before and after a concussion.
As a parent, if you suspect your child has suffered a sports-related concussion, remove them from play and consult a medical professional. The doctor will inform you of a return to play timeline based on your child’s symptoms.
Stay healthy and have fun on the field this year!