With schools around the nation starting, school football and soccer teams are already practicing for the upcoming season, but that means these young athletes are putting themselves at risk for brain injury.
The fall sports season is synonymous with a spike in sports-related brain injuries, and when left untreated or unnoticed these injuries can have devastating consequences. This is why it is essential athletes, coaches, and parents are all educated on the warning signs of concussions and what to do when a young athlete may have suffered a brain injury.
Concussions are notoriously difficult to diagnose as there are rarely any obvious signs that indicate a brain injury has occurred. For example, while losing consciousness is one symptom frequently cited as a key to identifying concussions, loss of consciousness only occurs in 10% of brain injuries.
Brain injuries can appear very differently from case to case, with injured individuals reporting a wide range of symptoms. To keep young athletes healthy, it is important to be aware of all the signs and symptoms of concussions, so injured players can be identified quickly and removed from play until they have been assessed.
If your child or another player on the field shows any of these symptoms, they should be examined for a concussion or TBI:
- Vision disturbance
- Loss of balance
- Memory loss (called amnesia)
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling foggy or groggy
- Sensitivity to light or noise.
Symptoms may not appear until a few hours or days after injury, so it is important to monitor athletes even days after a particularly hard hit.
The most important step to keeping athletes safe is making sure they are removed from play when a brain injury is suspected. If not, there is a high risk the player may experience another brain injury and “second impact syndrome,” which can be fatal.