The fall season is an exciting time for parents and kids alike — but as a parent, you know that playing sports has some downsides for your kids. Namely, what are those hard hits doing to your child’s head and body?
While you can easily see a broken bone or lacerated skin, brain injuries and concussions are harder to detect — especially among young kids who seem to bounce back from anything. The following are a few things every parent needs to know about concussions — and how to help protect your sport-loving kids’ growing brains.
Don’t Expect Helmets to Protect Everything
Just because your child is wearing a helmet during practices and games — or during any type of helmeted sport or activitiy — doesn’t mean his or her head is fully protected.
A concussion happens when a traumatic blow causes the brain to shake inside the skull. In many cases, a helmet can’t protect from the impact of such a blow. Kids may think that because they’re wearing a helmet they’ll be protected — and that false sense of security may cause some kids to play more aggressively. That is why it’s important to explain to your child that a helmet won’t protect him or her from everything.
Start the Season Right
When you know your child is going to be playing sports during an upcoming season, consider getting an ImPACT or concussion baseline test.
Sports leagues, sports medicine clinics or even your pediatrician can provide the test or a prescription for it. The ImPACT test measures your child’s preseason cognitive function and the physical exam checks your child’s balance and visual tracking. Then, if your child suffers a concussion or a hard blow to the head, his or her doctor will have a benchmark to determine the extent of the injury, and advise if and when your child is able to play again.
While it might seem like a lot of hassle upfront for something that might not happen, you’ll be grateful to have that peace of mind if your child suffers a head injury during the season.
Get Educated About Concussions
Before your child starts playing sports, take the time to educate yourself and your child about concussion symptoms and treatment.
Any time your child receives a blow to the head during a practice or a game, the coach should remove him or her from the field and check for the following symptoms:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty remembering details or concentrating
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Loss of consciousness
- Being dazed or confused
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Blurry vision
- Personality or behavioral changes
If your child has any of these symptoms after a hard hit or blow to the head, he or she shouldn’t return to play until cleared by a medical professional.
Parents who worry about their child playing sports and concussions have good reason to be concerned. Thankfully, there are measures you can take to help protect your child throughout the season. These precautionary steps allow your child to reap the benefits of playing a sport he or she loves, while giving you a little more peace of mind throughout the season.
Heber Valley Hospital’s sports trainers provide state-of-the-art injury prevention and treatment services for athletes of every level. To schedule your child for an ImPACT or baseline concussion test, call Heber Valley Hospital Physical Therapy at 435-657-4690.