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Aug
16

Praise for More Concussion Education

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With two athletes in high school now I am so happy to know that our high school and state have placed a priority on concussion awareness and education in all sports at the high school level. I was at the school earlier this week for fall sports night – a night where ALL fall athletes and their parents must attend to get information from the administration on academic eligibility, expectations and concussion awareness.  Every athlete in the school from the cheerleaders to the swimmers to the cross country runners to the football players and everyone in between must go through the ImPACT test when they first join the team so there is baseline data on every athlete in the event they suffer a head injury.

What is the ImPACT test?  From the ImPACT website:

ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT was developed to provide useful information to assist qualified practitioners in making sound return to play decisions following concussions.

If you have a student athlete who does a “non-impact” sport, you may not think that concussion education is important, but according to our school’s principal, the first athlete they had to retest following a head injury was not a football player or a soccer player, it was SWIMMER who had stood up in the locker room after a hard race and passed out immediately hitting her head on a counter top as she fell. My son also suffered a head injury this spring while swimming when he misjudged the wall and ended up with five stitches in his forehead (no concussion though).  So, really, you just never know and having that baseline data is just so important for managing a head injury when it occurs.

Did you know that 90% of concussion occur without the loss of consciousness? Did you know that the effects of a second and third injury have compounding repercussions if the initial injury is not completely healed? 

When in doubt, as a parent or a coach, if you have an athlete that has sustained ANY LEVEL of head injury – with or without the loss of consciousness – sit them out and get them evaluated! There are more important things in life than playing hurt. 

While it is great to see high schools, colleges and professional sports leagues taking concussion education and monitoring seriously, I would encourage pediatricians offices and/or youth sports leagues to offer baseline testing as well. 

For more information on concussions in youth sports, concussion education and concussion testing, see the following articles:

Categories : Injuries, Resources
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The numbers are staggering and heartbreaking – girls soccer players are treated for so many concussions each year that they are second only to football among youth athletes. A concussion is a brain injury and the easiest way I can explain it is if you were to take a block of jello and put it in a container then drop it you will see it stays primarily as it bounces of the walls of its container, but do it too many times and the jello does break down. And girls are actually more susceptible to concussions than boys, due in part to anatomy and inherent neck strength – according to a study by the Journal of Athletic Training, in sports that both girls and boys play, like soccer and basketball, girls are 1.5 times more likely to suffer head injuries in basketball and 3 times more likely when playing soccer.

NBC’s Kate Snow of Rock Center did a very informative piece on this alarming trend, how it affects the girls (girls in the interview claimed having multiple concussion over the past few years), what the warning signs are and what needs to be done to lower the numbers. Watch below:

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One trend I am very happy to see, at least in our area, is concussion testing at the high school level. Every high school athlete – whether they play football or are on the swim team – go through baseline concussion testing each season. I am wondering if this needs to become a service that is more readily available at the club sports and recreational sports level, too?

Additionally, there are three really important steps you can take as a parent to help prevent concussions in your athlete:

You may also be interested in a documentary by the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport highlighting the untold story of female athletes and concussion injuries. Knowledge is power when it comes to reducing the number of concussions young girls are suffering on the field.

Categories : Injuries, Soccer
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If you have kids who play sports, here is a word of advice I have for you – never leave the house without your insurance card! All joking aside, whether you have kids playing sports or not, you really to be prepared for a trip to the Emergency Room when you least expect it (because kids don’t warn you when they are going to get hurt) – I have been un-lucky enough to have been in that situation 3 times in the past 18 months.

Stitches to the forehead Those fabulous stitches in the picture on the right belong to my son. I had just left the pool the other night when I got a call on my cell phone from my son’s coach. He had been swimming and somehow misjudged the wall on his flip turn and managed to catch his forehead on the very immovable pool wall. OUCH!

I quickly turned right around and picked him up from practice and headed to the ER. Two hours and 5 stitches later, he was back in action and joking about the incident. The good news is, that will heal up pretty quickly and he can actually go back to practice this week. The bad news is, that is going to leave a scar. Now, a scar on your hand, leg or other body part is not the end of the world – but depending on how this heals, we may end up looking into having plastic surgery done (I know if it was one of the girls, we would definitely have plastic surgery done).

As the result of our ER visits, I have come up with a few tips for sports parents to make dealing with sports injuries a little less stressful.

6 Sports Injury Tips for Sports Mom & Dads:

1. ALWAYS carry identification and your insurance cards. ALWAYS. Other information you will need to know at the ER include your child’s social security number, their primary care physician’s information and any allergies they may have.

2. Make sure your athlete’s coach has your current contact information and an emergency contact number.

3. Have a backup plan for the other children in the family. Luckily I was able to drop my 10 year old with a friend who took both of my daughters home, sparing them a lengthy wait in the ER with us.

4. Know where the closest medical facility is to your athlete’s regular practice venue. If you are traveling to a competition out of the area, make finding out where is the nearest hospital part of your planning.

5. Stay calm!! The best thing you can do for your child when they are injured is to stay calm and be their advocate.

6. Be sure to ask all the questions you can think of while you have the doctor there – be clear on discharge, follow up and return to activity instructions! One thing I did learn from this incident that I did not know before is that if your child is getting stitches, you can request that a plastic surgeon put the stitches in, instead of the ER doctor assigned to you.

Being prepared for the unexpected is half the battle of parenting, however, when you have an athlete you have to expect the unexpected more often. 😉

 

Categories : Injuries
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