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A Parent’s Guide to Sports-Related Concussions

Every year, millions of children and adolescents participate in sports, and while the benefits of physical activity are numerous, it is important to understand the potential risks involved. Sports-related concussions are a common concern, especially among contact sports. As a parent, it is crucial to be aware of the warning signs, the importance of seeking medical attention, how physical therapy can help with recovery, and the steps you can take to prevent future injuries. In this post, we will discuss the most common sports that result in a concussion, what parents need to watch out for, and when it is dangerous to ignore a concussion.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that can occur when the head is hit or shaken. Concussions can lead to severe complications if not diagnosed and treated correctly.

Which sports commonly result in concussions?

Studies have revealed that sports with the highest risk of concussion include football, soccer, hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. These sports involve a considerable amount of physical contact, which puts the players at risk for head injuries. A 2019 study found that high school football players have a higher rate of concussions than any other sport because of the high-impact collisions that occur between players. But any activity where there is a chance of head trauma, such as skateboarding, biking, or skiing, can result in a concussion as well. Wrestling, cheerleading, and gymnastics are sports with a lower risk of concussion but are not exempt from it. As a parent, you should be aware of the concussion risks associated with your child’s sport and take appropriate precautions.

What do parents need to watch out for when their children get a concussion?

It is important to monitor your child’s behavior after a head injury since some symptoms may not occur until hours or days later. Common symptoms to look out for include headache, confusion, memory problems, vomiting, dizziness, loss of balance, sensitivity to light or noise, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. You may also notice changes in your child’s mood, behavior, and sleeping patterns. It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if your child exhibits any of these symptoms after a head injury, especially if they begin having seizures or their symptoms worsen.

When is it dangerous and important to seek medical treatment?

It is vital to seek medical attention when your child exhibits any of the symptoms mentioned above. If your child loses consciousness, has a persistent headache, or becomes unresponsive, it is crucial to call 911 or take them to the emergency room. You must not underestimate the severity of a concussion, as it can have long-lasting effects, such as memory loss, learning difficulties, and even permanent brain damage.

The severity of a concussion varies, and a healthcare professional can evaluate the injury and determine the appropriate course of action, such as rest or hospitalization.

Can kids continue playing sports after having a concussion, and how long do they wait to participate again?

After a concussion, it’s crucial to allow time for recovery and avoid any activities that may prolong the healing process, such as sports, physical education classes, or rough play. Children with mild concussions should be cleared by a healthcare professional before returning to the sport. It is crucial to understand that each injury is unique, and the severity of the concussion plays a crucial role in the recovery period. Returning to sports activities too abruptly or returning too soon before the brain has fully healed can result in repeated concussions, leading to lifelong issues. Therefore, it is essential to consult with your child’s healthcare provider and follow their recommended treatment protocol.

Can physical therapy help with recovery?

Physical therapy can play a critical role in concussion recovery. Multiple systems can be affected following a concussion meaning symptoms are going to vary. Neck pain, balance deficits, vision changes, dizziness, and headaches are all common symptoms of concussion that a physical therapist can address. A physical therapist will perform a thorough assessment to identify which systems are affected following the concussion and develop a treatment plan to restore proper function to these areas.

Are there ways to prevent a concussion but continue playing that sport?

Fortunately, there are various measures you can take to reduce the risk of concussions while still participating in sports. Wearing a helmet is essential in high-impact sports like football and hockey. Other protective gear including chest protectors and mouthguards can also help reduce the risk.

Ensuring proper technique, teaching the rules of the sport, providing and enforcing safety guidelines, and making sure your children are participating in age-appropriate activities are critical aspects of prevention. You can also encourage your child’s team or coach to prioritize safety. Coaches can modify game time and practice drills to decrease the chance of head impacts. Encouraging children to report any potential concussions to their parents or coaches can also help identify risk factors before further injury occurs.

In conclusion, sports-related concussions can be a significant concern for parents, but by being mindful of the risks, warning signs, and steps you can take to prevent future injuries, you can ensure your child is as safe as possible. If your child does experience a head injury, it is crucial to seek medical attention and follow the recommended rest and treatment protocols to prevent further damage and long-term effects. With proper attention to safety precautions, concussion prevention measures, and quality physical therapy, young athletes can safely enjoy the sports they love while minimizing the severely harmful effects of concussions.

If you or your child has recently experienced a concussion, schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists today to get started on your journey to recovery!

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