Concussions in sports have become a fact of life and a real hot-button issue at all levels of the sports world. A lot of research has been conducted on the subject to get a better understanding of how to make better equipment to make it safer for athletes to compete on the field of play. This is something that needs to be taken seriously by athletes, coaches and parents because what might seem and look like a simple blow can kill an athlete. Even hours or days after the blow happens.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a force delivered to the head or body causing the brain to shake or rotate in the skull violently. This injury results in the way the brain operates and functions. There is often change in personality, thinking or physical functioning of the athlete.
The Center of Decease Control estimates 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur each year. Some studies done on concussions in sports tackle football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion). While soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50% chance for concussion) some studies even suggest that females are twice as likely to sustain a concussion as male counterparts.
In 2003 Damon Jones, 16, passed away three days after suffering an injury and losing consciousness during a football game in Portville, N.Y. His exact cause of death has not been made public. His teammates voted to end the season two-weeks after his death. Jones’s death raised lots of attention to the issue of concussions in sports and the media began talking about it on the national level as it became a major topic of discussion. The Sports Concussion Institute says 78% of concussions occur during games (as opposed to practices) on the institute website.
Jones is not the first high football player to die from a blow in a football game and he will not be the last based on history of the sport. Just Google sports concussions on the internet and you will find articles, sad stories of youths who suffered concussions while participating in sports. Although research is being conducted to try to make sports safer, for those athletes who take part each year.
Cleared To Play Organization Inc. reports on their website that a 2011 study of U.S. high schools with at least one athletic trainer on staff found that concussions accounted for nearly 15% of all sports related injuries reported to athletic trainers.
A few of the signs trainers, coaches and parents should look for, if they suspect their athlete has a concision, is a headache (85%) and Dizziness (70-80%). These are the most commonly reported symptoms immediately following concussions for injured athletes. It is estimated that 47% of blows go unreported by athletes because of they want to stay in the game and keep playing.
A few years back the NFL was in the news because a Judge had ruled in the players favor in a long ongoing lawsuit over concussions, when a group of former players sued the league. The award handed down from the bench was 765 million and the judge thought that might have been to low of a settlement. A federal judge denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of concussion claims, fearing it may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody then requested more financial analysis from the parties.
Politicians in some states have introduced bills that would protect athletes who receive concussions while participating in sports activities. All but three states have strong safety laws in place on concussions in youth sports. These laws have been in place since May of 2009. All were designed and modeled after Washington State’s groundbreaking Zackery Lvastedt Law.
As a parent of a young athlete medical professionals say to remove the athlete immediately from practice and games if you suspect your child has a concussion. Make sure the athlete is evaluated by a professional who has a background in concussions. Do not try to elevate the issues yourself. The athlete should not return to the sports activity until he or she is symptom free and have been cleared by a medical professional.
There is no way to completely prevent concussions but keeping equipment well maintained and checked often may help in the prevention of a serious concussion on the field of play or ice rink. The Heads UP campaign by the NFL teaches youths to tackle and block with their heads up and is good advice in helping prevent a concussion in football. So athletes play it safe out there and have a long career in sports. Parents be aware of your resources available on sports concussions and educate your athletes on concussions. Always remember that a concussion of any kind is no joking matter and not worth your child’s life.