10 Concussion Safety Tips for Fall-Winter Student-Athletes
What do you need to know? Honoring National Childhood Injury Prevention Week
Posted Aug 30, 2016
Honoring National Childhood Injury Prevention Week starting September 1, parents of student-athletes, among all the others involved in sports, must face the realities of the mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussions.
For example, immediate action is required for sports teams across the country to comply with new statewide legislation regarding the elevated standards of concussion care. Find your state's concussion safety laws below, as well as the following 10 “Need-to-Know” Concussion Safety Tips:
10 “Need-to-Know” Concussion Safety Tips
- Concussion incidence rates are higher than you think. An estimated 3 million concussions are reported every year, according to the Center for Disease Control. For children under the age of 5, the highest culprits of concussion injury are falls from car seats and strollers. Additionally, brains are particularly susceptible to concussion injury at younger ages, and continues to develop through the age of 25.
- Know your state laws. With regards to sports participation, there’s a good overview here from Momsteam Institute, as well as this one from USA Football. New minimum standards are being implemented every year, so keep yourself updated annually.
- Educate yourself about concussions. Start with learning the basics about the brain, signs and symptoms of concussion, and what to do when a concussion is suspected.
- Assign a "Concussion Coordinator." Volunteer, select or elect someone to help take the lead with helping the team with education, baseline testing, and monitoring the practices and games. The Concussion Coordinator would be given authority to serve as a “Spotter” and alert the training or coaching staff of a possible concussion injuries.
- Get your athlete "baseline" tested. This is typically a neurocognitive test that measures memory, language and process speed prior to concussion injury. It establishes a baseline score for the athlete, and can help identify which athletes may be more prone to injury. I recommend using a baseline test that also measures emotional issues and balance.
- Use an onsite concussion assessment tool. Select a concussion detection mobile app or other sports concussion assessment test to have on hand during the practices and games.
- Don't move unconscious player. Loss of consciousness is the most obvious concussion symptoms. But it's important not to move the unconscious player. Give it 30 seconds or so and if the player doesn't respond, then begin CPR and call 9-1-1.
- When in doubt, sit them out. Many times, concussion symptoms do not materialize for several minutes, hours and days. So, if you suspect someone may be fighting off the symptoms, then pull them aside for five minutes and begin the onsite assessment test.
- Report the injury to your doctor. Before contacting your medical advisor, have as much data about the injury as you can gather, including time, date of injury, visible symptoms, injury description, and any data you can gather from the onsite assessments.
- Follow a recovery protocol for a healthy return-to-play or return-to-learn environments. After a concussion, the best thing to do is rest the individual. Avoid overloading the brain with input from movies, gaming, talking, texting, even reading. Sleep is the prescription. Then, begin the recovery protocol. This is a progressive-exertion protocol that allows the brain to heal, bringing it along in a way that does not provoke symptoms from re-occurring. Once the athlete can complete the recovery protocol, then seek medical clearance from your physician.
Finally, seek to instill a new culture on the team that values the brain health over wins and losses.
For more on Harry Kerasidis, M.D., see xlntbrain.com
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