I bet that many areas of the country are seeing the sports coverage of their local newspaper veer toward football. With the impending start of the next school year, coaches, athletes and fans are getting excited about the upcoming seasons.
Therefore, it’s a good time to explore the dangers of concussions, which are traumatic brain injuries often caused by a blow to the head. Some people lose consciousness upon suffering a concussion, although others do not.
So how can you know if an athlete has suffered a concussion? The following signs suggest that an athlete may have suffered a concussion:
- The athlete appears dazed or stunned.
- The player is confused about the assignment or position.
- The player is not sure about the game, the score or the opponent.
- The athlete loses consciousness for any period of time.
- The athlete displays changes in behavior or personality.
- The athlete is not able to recall events prior to or after the hit or the fall.
Symptoms of a concussion include:
- Having a headache or feeling pressure in the head.
- Experiencing nausea or vomiting.
- Experiencing issues with balance or dizziness.
- Experiencing double or blurry vision.
- Being sensitive to light or noise.
- Feeling sluggish.
- Having concentration or memory problems.
- Seeing stars.
- Experiencing ringing in the ears.
- Having slurred speech.
- Experiencing sleep disturbances.
- Experiencing psychological adjustment problems and depression.
- Having disorders of taste and small.
If a concussion is suspected, the coach should take the following steps for the athlete:
- Remove the athlete from the playing field immediately.
- Make sure that the athlete is evaluated immediately by a qualified and appropriate health care professional.
- Inform the athlete’s parents or guardians of the possible concussion.
- Only allow the athlete to resume participating in the sport after an appropriate health care professional clears the return.
With the focus on former NFL players who have suffered severe brain damage and dementia due to numerous concussions during their playing days, football has captured most of the attention on this topic. Increasingly, officials, coaches and players at all levels are focusing on safety to help limit concussions as well as developing protocols to ensure that an athlete who suffers a concussion takes the necessary time off to recover.
USA Football recommends three steps to limit concussions for football players. These are:
- Make sure equipment fits each player properly. The group provides a video detailing the way to properly fit an athlete with a helmet.
- Learn the symptoms of concussions so you can recognize them.
- Encourage players to tackle in the safest way possible. The group recommends what it’s calling Heads-Up Tackling and offers a video on its website that details this technique.
Furthermore, neck-strengthening exercises can help limit any whiplash an athlete suffers in a big hit. However, mouth guards have not been found to prevent concussions.
Female Athletes & Concussions
While the focus about concussions is often on football, female athletes are also at risk. In fact, approximately 2.2 female soccer players per 1,000 had a concussion from 2004-2009, as compared to 1.4 male soccer players. The difference in the concussion rate was similar for female athletes playing basketball when compared to male athletes playing that sport.
Researchers have found that concussion symptoms tend to last longer in women. Furthermore, women seem to suffer approximately twice the cognitive impairment from a concussion as compared to men.
Researchers are not sure why female athletes are more vulnerable, they do have several hypotheses. One is based on neck strength. Females have smaller necks and less neck strength, which makes it difficult for the neck to slow the head’s movement in order to buffer the blow. The second hypothesis is that women have a higher rate of blood flow to the brain, causing them to be more susceptible when a concussion limits this blood flow.
Therefore, it's important for all athletes and their coaches to take the proper precautions to prevent and treat concussions.A little vigilence will go a long way.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Hassan, A. (2013). Concussions in women finally getting attention. Houston Chronicle.
Mayo Clinic. (2011). Concussion.
Roepken. C. (2013). Tackling technique key to youth safety. Houston Chronicle.
USA Football. (nd). Concussion awareness & helmet fitting.
USA Football. (nd). How to tackle.
USA Football. (nd). Signs & Symptoms.
Published On: July 22, 2013