By Farzad Massoudi, MD, FACS
Being the parent of a young football player comes with a certain pride – you’re willing to sell tickets at the big game, man the concession stand, and relentlessly display your child’s school team sticker on the back of your car.
But with the joy you get from cheering on your child as he runs down the field comes the fear that he could, at any time, suffer a serious injury.
Of all high school sports, football presents the highest risk of concussion for boys, who have a 75 percent chance of getting one during their high school career, according to the Sports Concussion Institute. Here are some tips of how to successfully navigate concussions:
Know the risks: Five to 10 percent of athletes will have a concussion in any given sports season; sports are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury among people 15 to 25 years old, just after car accidents. This is why safe play
Know the symptoms: Signs of a concussion can include mild pain, like headaches and nausea. They can also cause cognitive and emotional disturbances like memory impairment and sadness. If your child has these symptoms, contact your physician. Also, know how to respond to trauma should an injury still occur.
Encourage your child to sound the alarm if something seems wrong: Concussion symptoms can be easily overlooked, and players often believe that they are not related to long-term health issues. Teach your child to recognize when they think they might have been injured.
Keep your child off the field: Most children who’ve suffered a concussion return to the football field within days or up to a few weeks after their injury. Keep your children off the field for much longer – typically at least two weeks to a month.
Educate yourself: The key to preventing concussions is education. Make sure that you, your child and their sports coaches understand the importance of protection during a game or a practice.
Parents must take a proactive approach to their child’s risk for a concussion if we are to reduce the number of head injuries that bring our communities’ young athletes to local hospitals – or worse, go unnoticed. Remember, safety first.
Farzad Massoudi, MD, FACS, is medical director of the Neuroscience and Spine Institute at Mission Hospital. The hospital is part of the St. Joseph Hoag Health network of care.