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Concussions in Youth Sports

When a child or teenager suffers a head injury the damage can be worse than it is for an adult. A younger brain is still developing, so a blow to the head can stunt the growth process, presenting a number of complications.

All too often concussions in youth sports are overlooked. In the years between 1997 and 2007, there were about 50 fatalities related to school football head injuries. And that’s just football. A serious head injury can occur in any sporting activity with soccer, hockey, basketball, and cheerleading being the next common activities statistically after football where concussions occur in school sports.

One of the leading problems associated with untreated concussions is that the injury is overlooked by coaches, teachers, and other school personnel. That’s why the ┬áCenters for Disease Control (CDC) is currently promoting their “Heads Up” program, which aims to enlighten parents and school faculty on the subject of youth concussions.

Many school sport coaches believe that a concussions only occur when the injured person loses consciousness. On the contrary, it is entirely possible to sustain a concussion injury without losing consciousness at all. Common misconceptions like these are why the CDC feels the need to release widespread concussion fact sheets. Among the advice listed by the “Heads Up” program are a series of bullets which outline how a coach should respond to a student head injury:

  1. Take the student out of the game. If it seems like a head injury has occurred, remove the player from the game and inspect his or her head for signs of injury; meaning bumps, bruises. If the student shows signs of concussion, do not allow him or her to continue playing.

  1. Have the student medically evaluated. Coaches are not medical professionals. If a student is harmed, have a physician evaluate the injury. To help the process, record useful information to help the doctor; information like the circumstances of the concussion, whether or not the student experienced loss of consciousness, loss of memory, or had a seizure.

  1. Let the student’s parents know. If in doubt that a concussion even took place, still let the parents know. Inform them whether or not the student has been medically evaluated and, if not, advise that they seek medical attention just to be safe.

  1. Require permission of a doctor before returning the student to play. If a student is concussed a second time, the repercussions could be severe. This is called second impact syndrome. It is best to be absolutely certain that the student is safe to continue playing rather than risk a case of second impact syndrome. Require parents to have a doctor give the OK before returning the student to play.

Youth concussions should not be taken lightly. Carpey Law feels strongly that all schools should implement safeguards to protect our nation’s kids from the long-term effects of head injuries. In fact, we write on the topic fairly regularly. To seek more information on concussions in youth sports, see the other articles on the Carpey Law website. Or search “concussions” in the search field on your right.

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