A new study in the medical journal Pediatrics is shedding new light on the danger of young athletes taking hits to the head and continuing to play. If you have a child involved in youth sports, what do you need to know to keep them safe? Read on.
It’s a scene we’ve seen far too often in the past. A high school (or even middle school) football player takes a big hit from a kid who looks like he’s old enough to be playing college ball already. The player, dazed, finds themselves facedown on the grass without really remembering how they got there. All they know is that their head is throbbing, their ears are ringing, and there’s dizziness and confusion clouding their senses.
In the old days, they used to call this “getting your bell rung.” Today, we have a new term for it: concussion.
In the old days, Coach might have sent you right back out for the next snap with a pat on the back and an encouraging “walk it off!”. Today, we’re beginning to understand just how dangerous taking that second or third blow to the head can be.
There’s a culture in sports that prizes putting the team before yourself, but when it comes to a brain injury — which is what a concussion is — not wanting to let the team down can be incredibly detrimental to a kid’s long term health.
The risk of long-term effects from concussions sustained while playing sports is a consideration that athletes of all ages need to be aware of. However, the risk of lasting damage is greatest for developing brains, making the concussion issue an incredibly important one for youth sports in particular.
Human bodies are amazingly resilient, and while it’s obviously not ideal, it’s also not catastrophic if a young person sustains a mild concussion while playing sports. However, as a new study is bringing to light, the second hit to the head can be the one that causes real problems. In fact, it seems that just continuing to play after a concussion can be detrimental.
The study showed that child athletes who kept playing after taking a big hit to the head took twice as long to recover as those who stopped playing immediately. Additionally, the athletes who played through the concussion showed marked impairment in their sensory abilities surrounding thought processing and reaction time.
Each week, Urgent 9 founder Dr. Manuel Momjian will personally weigh in on the topics covered by the blog.
I use a common sense approach to any sports related injury. If it doesn’t feel right, you probably should not be doing it. Our bodies tell us a lot. Driving on a flat tire is a good example. Most of the damage can be contained if you just stop your car and fix the problem before you continue driving. So, always allow your body to heal completely before resuming sports.
Head injuries are an extreme example of this since your brain is so important. Therefore, if you sustain a head injury that is making you feel different, this should be a serious concern. Have a professional check you out, and allow yourself enough time to heal. The risks are too great, including prolonging your recovery time, which could translate to preventable damage to your brain. The worse case scenario would be a second impact syndrome — which is game over.
— Dr. Momjian