When watching your child compete, it should induce pride, not fear. However, concussions are common at the high school and collegiate level. Meanwhile, most of it goes ignored. After speaking with Dr. Kevin Walters, the program director of adolescent pediatric sports medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, we learned about the possible methods to prevent brain injury, and how to deal with one if it arises.
Walters stated that the key to preventing serious head injuries is to report them immediately when you notice a headache, dizziness or nausea. Sounds easy, right? However, according to Walters, a lot of head injuries never get reported. As a result, there can be no treatment. He said that the problem with athletes in youth is that they will often hide the injury. They want to have fun playing sports, rather than discussing a possible brain injury with the coach or doctor. As a result, the brain injury gets ignored, which can lead to severe brain dysfunction later. In some cases, it can even be fatal.
While girls and boys should play sports because being physically active offers you the chance to learn new skills, you should never let a concussion go unreported. Sports teach children that hard work and discipline can help them to reach the limits of their potential. With all the positives brought to light, you still have stories of professional athletes who suffer from traumatic brain injuries. It pervades every sport, including: hockey, soccer, football and other sports. What happens during a possible head injury?
People who suffer multiple concussions have an increased risk of incurring damage to the spinal cord and brain. How do you prevent a TBI? The first step is through public awareness and understanding the seriousness related to the subject. Luckily, there is a growing awareness of it in the sports field because we have learned about it occurring to our military veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Statistics estimate that 40,000 male and female veterans were diagnosed with TBI.
As the coaches, parents and policymakers, it becomes our task to protect our youth from head injuries. How can we do that? First, we have to rethink how our children play sports. For example, Minnesota passed a law that aims to reduce the number of children who suffer from TBI. It educates the children, parents and coaches about the risks and symptoms associated with brain injuries. With this law, students cannot return until they have seen a qualified physician if they experience a concussion.
The children rely on the parents, coaches and health practitioners to reduce the risk. It can be implemented through proper practice technique, immediate medical intervention and careful supervision. For example, Pop Warner, the largest youth football league, recently announced that they plan to limit the amount of contact and collision during practice sessions to reduce the chance of repetitive TBI. As can be seen, there are things that can be done to lower the risks in sports. With what we know, we create opportunities for children to participate while giving them a safe environment that will build the child’s self esteem.
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