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The Truth about Concussions, Sports Policies and Children

June 14, 2011

Contact sports like football and hockey are notorious for concussions. It was a series of concussions that hampered Kurt Warner’s performance in St. Louis and even lead to his decision to retire.

In late 2010 Blues Forward McDonald tripped over a rut in the ice and crashed into the leg of an opposing player and suffered a concussion.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a severe injury to the brain that can lead to serious long term consequences. It’s usually caused by a blow to the head–whether by another player or the ground.

This blow causes the brain inside the skull to rattle. A concussion actually stops the brain from working during the injury. Permanent brain damage, however, is rare.

Symptoms in the sufferer include fainting, nausea and lightheartedness. Sometimes the symptoms can go unnoticed. Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of memory
  • Passing out
  • Confusion or inability to concentrate

The usual treatment for a sports injury like a concussion is plenty of rest. Some people recover in a matter of hours while others may take a few weeks.

Occasionally someone who’s suffered from a concussion can develop post-concussive injuries, which means the original symptoms continue long after the original injury.

Your doctor can prescribe a medication for symptoms like nausea or lightheadedness, but often it’s not necessary. It’s important that concussive patients return for re-evaluation within 24 to 72 hours after the injury, especially if symptoms are persistent.

Concussions and Sports Policies

Studies have been cropping up lately that have led the NFL and NHL to impose new policies to protect players.

For instance, the NFL requires players who show signs of suffering from a concussion to sit out for the rest of a game or practice. They are not allowed to play until they’ve been cleared by a neurologist.

The NHL requires any player who shows signs of a concussion to be examined by a doctor in the locker room before they can return to practice or the game. This concern for safety is even extending to children’s sports.

Concussions in Children

In a February 2011 report, ESPN covered the danger of children playing tackle football. While former player Eddie Mason won’t consider allowing his child to play tackle until he is much older, LaVar Arrington doesn’t see a problem with it.

Arrington said the kids playing tackle football aren’t moving fast enough to inflict serious injuries like concussions. Yet, risks still exist.

Youth tackle football is often coached by people without formal training and can employ questionable tactics, so as a parent its best to evaluate a team, the coaches and combined experience before making a decision to let them play for that team.

That is even if you want them to play tackle. Keep in mind: There are plenty of flag football leagues to choose from.

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