Few things pose a greater existential threat to the future of youth sports in general and sports such as football and hockey, in particular as concussions. The NFL, in particular, has seen increased public scrutiny in recent years as the result of CTE, depression, brain damage, and other related issues coming to the fore. The death of former stars like Dave Duerson and Junior Seau and the premature retirement of players like Chris Borland and Andrew Luck has highlighted the severity and immediacy of the issue.
While the NFL tries to get its house in order and reform the way it prevents, identifies, and responds to concussions, you will want to learn how to do the same. While none of us want to think about the prospect of child athletes suffering concussions, accidents happen in sports, and when it comes to a concussion, time matters. You thus need to be able to identify concussions and treat them quickly.
Concussions typically occur as a result of a hard hit to the head. This is why, while old highlights of NFL games celebrate the brutality of helmet-to-helmet hits, they are now strictly outlawed, and children are being taught to stay well clear of the head and target the torso when tackling. Immediate symptoms of a concussion include:
- Dizziness and disorientation
- Memory loss
- Impaired vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
If you so much as suspect a concussion, it is of the utmost importance that you remove the player from the game immediately. Playing through concussions can lead to some of those more severe conditions, such as CTE. While this shouldn’t result from a single hit or two, repeated concussions can increase the risk. The NFL now has strict protocols on when players can rejoin their team to play following concussions, and those regulations can keep them out for several games.
You’ll then want to have your child see a physician, rest, administer painkillers as necessary, and track those symptoms carefully.
Sports can be a lot of fun, but you don’t want to jeopardize your child by missing or forcing them to play through a concussion.