Parents guide to preventing and dealing with concussions in sports
1. Educate yourself. Before your child gets a head injury, familiarize yourself with all the symptoms of concussions.
2. Follow Prevention Technique. Make sure your child’s coaches are educated about prevention or Prehab. They will teach athletes techniques that will prevent players from leading with their heads as they tackle in football; how to properly head the ball in soccer, and their baseball coaches are teaching kids how to slide safely.
3. Have the right equipment. Helmets and shoes and other clothing should fit properly. Equipment go only so far in protecting children from concussions, but it’s still important for equipment to be well-maintained, fit correctly and to be used properly.
4. Have access to a concussion expert. Don’t assume it’s there. If your school doesn’t have a physical therapist or a trainer, start a campaign to get one. Healthcare professionals have expertise about sports injuries that many coaches lack, and they also provide a more objective opinion about whether an athlete needs to sit out. That’s especially important for concussions, which are far more difficult to diagnose and to assess in terms of recovery.
5. Assess coach’s attitude. Make sure your child’s coach has the right attitude about concussions. If your coach takes a light approach about concussions, it’s time to talk to administration about the school’s potential liability. Some coaches still see concussions as something athletes can tough out. Also, as a parent, champion the importance of good sportsmanship and strict officiating.
6. Follow size and talent recommendations. Be careful about putting your child in a situation where they are competing against much larger competitors. Make sure your child is in a league appropriate to his or her size and talents. Among the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Pay attention to strength and conditioning.
DEALING WITH A CONCUSSION:
1. Contact pediatrician. In the event of a head injury, call your pediatrician, especially if your child starts complaining about nausea, dizziness, inability to concentrate, headaches and has difficulty falling asleep or sleeping more than usual.
2. Use common sense. For example, delay entry into tackle football. Have your child play flag football for as long as possible. The more you prevent repeated head coalition the less chance for complications. Current research is very inconclusive about long term effects of head trauma especially because some folks think there is such a thing as “minor” head trauma or “sub concussive” injury.
3. Fully recover prior to returning to sports. If the child does sustain a concussion, make sure he or she is fully recovered before returning to play. All athletes should be symptom-free for a week before they return to competition. That means that they have been evaluated by a healthcare professional and tested to be free of symptoms not only based on what is reported by the athlete. There is a process – Rehabilitation.