Why Sports Concussions Are Dangerous
It is not uncommon for you to read it in the news that professional athletes that were hit too hard wound up with a concussion. However, professional athletes are not the only ones that we should be worried about. Many children on youth sports team or who are playing for their high school team can have just as much risk of having a concussion.
So what are the consequences of a sports related head injury?
Any time you get a concussion, there will always be some effect on the brain that does not go away and can have a cumulative effect.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a concussion is defined as a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or an impact to the body that causes the brain to move back and forth within the skull. The CDC has reported that around 175,000 children are treated in the emergency room each year for concussions due to sports related activities. These are especially common in high impact sports such as rugby, ice hockey, football, lacrosse, and wrestling.
How are concussions diagnosed?
Since concussions are a functional type of injury and not a structural one, such as a bruise, they cannot be found on X-rays or other scans. While not all of the symptoms below will be present for a concussion to be diagnosed, these are typically the most common ones you will notice.
- One pupil seems larger than the other
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up
- Slurred speech, weakness, or numbness
- Issues with balance or a decreased coordination
- Worsening headache that will not go away
- Vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Confusion, restlessness or aggressive behavior
- Forgetfulness or difficulty remembering events
- Loss of consciousness
Other signs of a concussion may include dazed or stunned appearance, clumsy behavior, trouble expressing emotions, and moving at a slower pace than usual during physical or mental activities.
Are concussions really serious?
In the days following a head injury, parents need to pay attention to whether symptoms worsen or if new ones begin to appear. If they do, your child needs to go to the emergency room. A doctor will be able to do a series of tests to assess memory skills, attention span, and problem solving skills to indicate the seriousness of the concussion.
It is also crucial that the child is not sent back to the field too soon after a head injury as it increases their risk of getting a second one which can be fatal. It may even be necessary to wait days, weeks, or even months before your child can safely return to their sporting activities.
Though the effects of concussions are still not clear, it has been proven severe or multiple concussions often result in long term cognitive changes that cannot be so easily recovered from.
Still, this does not mean that your child should never be allowed to play sports. If your child has just one concussion and is given the proper treatment and rest needed, they can easily make a full recover. It is also important to note that the best way to prevent concussions is by ensuring that your child is always wearing the necessary protective gear for the game.