As the fall sports season kicks into high gear, you can expect to see some stunning throws, unbelievable catches, and devastating hits in high school and college football stadiums across the country.
Unfortunately, those brutal clashes mean you can also expect to see concussions.
Concussion education efforts have helped raise awareness of concussions in sports, leading to an increasing number of brain injuries being reported on the field – both in practice and on game day. Thankfully, coaches and team staff are better trained to quickly identify and respond when players are injured.
Early identification, diagnosis, and treatment are essential for protecting athlete’s brains from more severe damage. As recent studies have shown, players who are left on the field with a concussion often face longer-lasting and more severe symptoms.
While coaches are often trained for what signs to watch for when they think an athlete has a concussion, it is important parents also know the signs as well. In many cases, symptoms may not appear for hours or even days after experiencing a concussion.
Concussions don’t always result from high-impact collisions on the field. In fact, any hit to the head can potentially rattle the brain enough to cause a concussion. In some cases, players can experience a brain injury without a direct hit to their head. This is because concussions are caused by rapid movement within the skull which can cause injury to the brain through rotational force or collision against the skull.
The most common symptoms parents should be watchful for if they think their young athlete has experienced a concussion are:
- Memory loss or slow processing
If your child experiences any of these symptoms after a hit to the head or fall, it is important to have them evaluated by a medical professional as quickly as possible. Immediately remove them from playing until you have spoken with a doctor about the best course of treatment.
Despite the common misconception, an athlete does not have to lose consciousness to experience a concussion. They may not suspect they are injured until hours after the injury when symptoms begin to arise.
In most cases, a concussed athlete will recover and be safe to return to play within 1-2 weeks, but it is important to monitor their injury and only allow them to return to sports after being cleared by a medical professional. Allowing injured players to return prematurely may put them at risk for more severe injury.
If your child is still experiencing symptoms after two weeks, have them re-evaluated by your primary care provider or other medical professional to monitor their progress and check for contributing factors such as mental health issues or post-concussion syndrome.