From Children to the Pros: The Everchanging World of Concussions

Dave.Ferguson Dave Ferguson

The word “concussion” strikes fear in some athletes. Where contact is inevitable, parents may not be as eager to enroll their children in a sport that may cause lifelong injury.

Young athletes have always looked to the pros for a role model.

Idolized by young impressionable minds, children in sport have always emulated elite athletes. Dreams of playing in the pro leagues fosters the growth of young athletes, as they copy the pros, both on and off the playing surface.

But, the professional leagues of many sports are not necessarily good places to find role models for young children.

The way that some pros handle their injuries including concussions, doesn’t, in many ways, promote what many parents, teachers and communities are trying to instill in youth today.

Self-care is absent when some athletes return to the game far too soon, simply because they want to play. LeBron James was even quoted as saying he “would play through a concussion.” Other professional athletes have also been vocal about playing regardless of suffering a serious head injury.

What does this mean towards the protection of those youth playing sports today?

Many leagues have instituted policies for parents, coaches and trainers to take mandatory courses on concussion education and awareness. Many leagues have also now regulated how much practice time involves bodily contact. Some leagues are utilizing baseline testing at the beginning of the season and others are experimenting with SCAT2 or Impact testing, should they suspect a player has suffered a concussion.

It’s not yet known if testing is accurate enough and some suspect that the baseline testing can be fudged.

We usually rely upon the concussion knowledge of the athlete in order to recognize when something is wrong. However, many (up to 70% of high school football players) will not admit when they are concussed. Some will continue to play and unfortunately for some, they may unknowingly suffer from either post concussion syndrome or second impact syndrome.

Approximately 80% of those afflicted with a concussion will return to their normal state, if they are treated correctly and follow proper return to play and learn guidelines. However, there are another 20% that may have symptoms for weeks, months or years. Some of those may even die from suicide, being unable to handle some of the long-term side effects of a serious brain injury.

Others who had suffered from SIS are at a greater risk of death after their second or third concussion in a game.

Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP, is a licensed clinical and school psychologist. He has presented papers on subtle brain injury for over 20 years and has personal experience with a subtle brain injury. His PhD Dissertation research was the first and only assessment of Active and Retired NFL players’ knowledge regarding concussions.

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