Recognizing symptoms, managing, and treating

Fall is almost upon us and for those of us in Oklahoma that means back to school, falling leaves (aka allergies), and football. Very soon those Friday night lights will be shining down on the next gridiron heroes. The highest priorities on most football parents' list are to keep your player hydrated and injury free so that they are in the best position to make those highlight grabbing plays. It is often easy for us to see the obvious injuries to bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Rest, ice, and rehab are the staples of injury management. But what if your brain is injured? Are we as careful to make sure they have recovered fully?

Concussions are a hot button topic both on social media and in the news. How to diagnose, manage and treat them is important as are the long term complications. It is up to you and your child to determine if the risk of injury is worth the reward of playing. But once that decision is made, remember that you are your players best advocate for injury prevention and treatment. The coaches, trainers and other staff are there to help but if you have a worry or concern, make sure you voice your opinion.

So what exactly is a concussion? Our brains are protected within our skull and surrounded by fluid that also helps protect our brains from small bumps. When we have a significant impact, our brain can hit the inside of our skull causing an injury to our brain. This injury often is manifested by symptoms of headache, dizziness, vomiting or trouble concentrating. With severe injury, you can have loss of consciousness, slurred speech, trouble walking, and blurred vision. While helmets help to some extent by lessening the force transmitted to the head, it is both the impact and sudden and violent change in direction that causes the brain to impact the inside of the skull.

There are ways to prevent injuries like this from happening. The obvious is wearing protective gear while playing sports. It is important that all gear fits appropriately and is for the designated sport. Warming up and stretching is also important. Knowing the rules and what is allowed and what is not allowed can prevent injury but, it is up to you to abide by the rules. Watch out for others, you can be aggressive and mindful of others at the same time. Don't play when you are injured this can lead to worsening of the injury as well as injuring something else.

After being diagnosed with a concussion by your athletic trainer or doctor it is important to take care of a concussion just like you would a sprain or other injury.

  • Physical Rest
  • Waiting to return to activities until all symptoms are gone.
  • Starting back to activities with a step wise approach. Start with cardio activity that is non-contact,if symptoms do not return, may advance to sport specific drills that are non-contact. Then may progress to light contact and finally full contact if symptoms continue to be resolved.
  • Mental Rest
  • Avoid activities that require a great deal of brain activity or processing.
  • This includes commuters, phones, video games, television, reading, school work (especially tests)
  • It is important to let teachers know when a student has had a concussion so that exceptions can be made to postpone or allow more time for school work.

So in conclusion, keep your athletes on the field and by giving them the knowledge of how to prevent, recognize symptoms and ultimately treat concussions. Don't just be a fan, be an advocate of concussion management and proper treatment.

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