To help ensure the health and safety of young athletes, the Protecting Our Student Athletes Act was passed in July 2011. This act will help inform and educate coaches and athletes and their parents or guardians of the nature and risk of concussions, criteria for removal from and return to play, and the risks of not reporting the injury and continuing to play.
In support of the act, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports initiative to offer information about concussions to coaches, parents, and athletes involved in youth sports. The Heads Up initiative provides important information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion.
According to the CDC, concussions are caused by a bump or blow to the head. Even a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious. Because signs of symptoms of a concussion can either show up right after the injury or not be notices until days of weeks after the injury, parents are urged to seek medical attention after a child reports any symptoms of a concussion.
Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion
If your child experiences a bump or blow to the head during a game or practice, parents should look for any of the following signs and symptoms of a concussion:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignment or position
- Forgets an instruction
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows behavior or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
- Can’t recall events after hit or fall
Additionally, a parent should seek immediate medical attention if your child reports the following symptoms:
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Does not “feel right”
Preventing a Concussion
Every sport is different, but there are steps your children can take to protect themselves from concussion.
- Ensure that they follow their coach’s rules for safety and the rules of the sport.
- Encourage them to practice good sportsmanship at all times.
- Make sure they wear the right protective equipment for their activity (such as helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment should fit properly, be well maintained, and be worn consistently and correctly. Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
If you think your child has a concussion, seek medical attention right away, keep your child out of play and tell your child’s couch about any recent concussion. It’s better to miss one game than the whole season!