In 2012 there were 3,800,000 reported concussions, 47% of those reports took place in high school football. 1 in 5 athletes will experience a concussion in each sport season and 33% of those athletes will experience at least one more before their high school graduation. Together as high school athletes, we need to stand up for our neurological safety in high school football by learning how to identify, treat and prevent a concussion.
Now many people have no idea what a concussion even is. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury after an impact to the head shakes the brain, which may cause neurological pathways in the brain to be permanently damaged” (Head Case Company). The most common reason for a miss diagnosed concussion is that the athlete did not lose consciousness. However, 90% of all diagnosed concussions report that the player did not lose consciousness.
Out of all sports played in high school, football leads the pack with approximately 2. 6 million concussions per year! This is a growing problem in the U. S. ecause our children and players are experiencing potentially life threatening or permanent damage to the brain. Without acknowledgement to this problem the number will become out of control and more athletes will die. Most Americans do not know how to properly identify the telltale signs of a concussion. According to the Head Case Company there are four types of symptoms of a concussion; physical, mental, sleep and emotional. When a person receives a concussion the most common way to identify it is the physical symptoms which are dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, blurred vision, headaches and/or unequal pupils.
You can also identify a concussion by mental symptoms such as confusion, inability to think and concentrate, loss of focus and difficulty remembering things. You can even identify a concussion after a hard blow to the head by a change in emotion or by the amount of sleep the person gets after impact. Although it depends on the person some symptoms are easily identified and some are hard to identify which is why so many concussions go unnoticed and that is dangerous and possibly deadly. There are many ways to treat a concussion, it just depends on the severity of the impact and the concussion.
If the athlete has vomited multiple times, has unequal pupils, is unconscious or is having a seizure you need to call 911 immediately. However, sometimes the concussion isn’t severe and even though it isn’t severe and he/she isn’t experiencing symptoms the child or athlete needs to stop all activities immediately. Just because the concussion isn’t severe and has none of the symptoms above does not mean he/she is fit to play. If you are a coach, parent or an adult and your child or athlete has had a hard blow to the head you first make them sit down and apply ice to the spot of impact.
For the pain you may give the child a Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Next, you want to monitor the person for the next 24 hours and look for the symptoms in the previous paragraph. He/ she shouldn’t get much sleep for the results may worsen while sleeping without monitoring and may result in death. If the athlete continues to experience small symptoms after 24 hours call a doctor. If the symptoms don’t go away after 7-10 days call a doctor immediately. Failure to follow these steps and he/she may die or receive permanent damage to the neurological pathways. Concussions can and need to be prevented all together.
One way to prevent a concussion is to make sure your child or athlete is wearing the proper headgear. If the protective headgear is secure and the coaches monitor the athlete’s better concussions can and will be reduced. We need to step up the monitoring of our children and athletes by making sure that their helmets are fully functional and are being used properly under the right condition. In football the athlete must wear a helmet with the chin strap buckled and his/her mouthpiece in to play, but that doesn’t guarantee that the athlete will stay concussion free.
Now here’s the part every athlete must understand, even with a helmet on you aren’t safe from concussions and you should avoid all blows to the head. The helmet must fit properly; too loose and the head has room to move which raises the risk for a concussion. If the helmet is too tight, then the helmet won’t absorb the impact which also raises the risk for a concussion. The helmet must fit right, and this isn’t monitored enough in football and we wonder why American high schooler suffers almost 4 million concussions each year.
Now that you know how to identify, treat and prevent a concussion, people need to create awareness for this growing problem in high school football. Together we can help lower the 4 million plus concussions per year by working harder to prevent concussions by monitoring our athlete’s equipment and safety. “Athletes”, remember, keep that helmet fitting right and that chin strap on, be sure to tell a parent, coach or guardian if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed after a hard hit to the head, concussions are not to be messed with!