Sunday, November 3, 2013

Protect your noggin. No really, this is serious.

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As we are sitting around watching football today, I am always reminded about how dangerous it is when I see a really hard hit.  I feel very passionate about the dangers of sports concussions and wanted to share this infographic above as a great snapshot about this issue.  This has been a hot topic with the NFL and NHL, but we still have a ways to go in every sport, and particularly in high school and college athletic teams.

As a fan, I find it outrageous for players or coaches to push for concussed players to get back in the game.  If you have kids in sports, I think it is important to make educated decisions about preventing or treating head injuries.

Here are a few questions you should ask:
  • Why don't we have a system to track sports concussions?  There isn't enough research yet about this, even though there has been a lot more visibility about the issue in the last few years.  Ask how your sports organizations track or handle sports concussions.
  • What is the "culture of resistance" in our sports teams?  The "culture of resistance" is a phrase that refers to when concussions go unreported in order to allow players to keep playing, often to the detriment of their own well-being.  If your team overlooks it, don't play.  If you are a fan of a national team turning a blind eye, stop watching.

Here are a few things you can do now:
  • Set your kids up for baseline testing.  This is testing that gives you an understanding of brain activity and function that is at your child's normal level.  After a concussion, you can complete the same test to measure any changes in brain function.  It is relatively cheap to do, and since there is no system to track this normally, this allows you to track it yourself.  Check out Axon Sports.
  • Talk to your kids and their coaches about the choice to get back on the field.  If we talk to our kids that they have the right and ability to stay off of the field until they have recovered, they might not feel pressured by others to get back in the game too early.  Talk to the coaches to understand their philosophy and the team culture about protecting against concussions and allowing for recovery time.
Read more in these articles and my sources for this post:

Concussion study offers sobering results - The Charlotte Observer
Study: No helmet brand can save football players from concussion risk - LA Times
NFL players' brains at work show early signs of concussions' toll - LA Times

If you read have time to read one of these articles, read the third one about NFL players' brains.  It is enough to motivate you to switch your kids to swim lessons.

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