Kids across the country will soon be heading back to school and sports. It’s important to be educated on the ways to keep your kids safe when they play the sports they love. In particular, parents, coaches and young athletes should all be aware of the signs and symptoms of concussion. We spoke with Dr. Elizabeth M. Pieroth, a Board Certified Neuropsychologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem and consultant to professional sports teams including the Chicago Blackhawks, about this important topic.
What is a concussion?
A concussion can occur with any blow or force to the head that causes mental status changes; disorientation, confusion, memory loss, slowness in thinking. Concussions occur in both boys and girls and can happen in all sports.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs are those things that are observed by others – such as coaches, parents or teammates. The symptoms are those things reported by an athlete. Click HERE for list of signs and symptoms.
What can parents and coaches do to prevent concussions?
It’s impossible to completely prevent concussions, but there are steps parents can take to keep their children safer while playing sports. First, talk to your child’s coach about how he/she handles safety issues. Has the coach been trained in concussion prevention? Does he/she know how to spot and respond to a concussion? If not encourage him/her to take the free, online Heads Up Course offered by the CDC. Are the coaches avoiding drills or moves that risk concussions? Are they encouraging fair play? Additionally, make sure your child’s equipment fits properly and that he/she wears the right equipment for every practice and game.
What should parents do if they think their child has suffered a concussion?
The first thing to do is to remove the child from practice or the game immediately. The saying goes, “When in doubt, sit them out.” Next, call a medical professional to talk about the diagnosis and treatment.
Why should kids play sports?
There are so many wonderful benefits for children, including: physical activity, self-discipline, friendships with teammates and increased self-esteem. We want or kids to be engaged in sports, but safety must always be the first priority.