A Hard Hitting Topic: Concussions


AH - the glory days of High School! When you were on the sidelines, did YOU think about the game’s long-term harmful (or fatal) physical effects? Probably not!

Come High School, your teenager has mostly gotten past the dreaded awkward phase, discovered their aspirations, and are working toward their goals. The experience of extracurriculars will guide them towards their passions and talents, while the pressures to excel put on by parents, fans, coaches, scouts, and even themselves motivate them. It’s good to work towards dreams, but if the outcome could be fatal, is it ALL worth it?

The awareness of concussions is increasing, but it’s important that families involved in all sports regularly discuss safety. Especially the several men’s and women’s contact sports such as soccer, football, basketball, cheerleading, wrestling, etc. School sports are a “norm” and a big deal in Oklahoma. So, to the parents of athletes, here’s a play-by-play!

Concussions - you’ve heard the topic thrown around at schools, online, and even in movies, but do you comprehend its threat entirely? A concussion is a harsh head injury due to intense physical contact. The brain function can be traumatically affected by an accidental collision or fall.  The Mayo Clinic provides some signs and symptoms of a concussion to look for such as confusion, headache, dizziness, nausea, changes in behavior, slurred speech, delayed response, and fatigue. Some side effects are not immediate, so you might not be aware of your condition until hours or even days after the injury. The scarier part is that most people never recover from it. Concussions are most prevalent in high-risk sports, and there are statistics to show for it. Dozens have personal stories of their loved-ones suffering the destructive consequences, or even lost their loved-ones due to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The horrible disease is a result of repeated concussions and head injuries. Even NFL players have been retiring from “America’s favorite sport” because of the research being done on CTE and the concern for their families’ sake if something permanent were to happen.

The big picture is that concussions are prevalent today and it’s imperative that parents, teammates, coaches and team physicians help enforce protection by requiring proper equipment and contribute to the awareness of concussions. The positives of the hours of practice, intense conditioning, and competitive games are that they teach proper health, dedication, strengths, teamwork, sportsmanship, etc. It’s just crucial that athletes recognize success without winning a prize because pushing themselves too far could be tragic. The lifelong repercussions are NOT worth the extra push to get that goal, pass, rebound, or block.

There are pros and cons to all athletics, but competitive contact sports have a higher chance of devastating lifelong impacts. It’s vital that kids play smart and carefully in their chosen sport. Cheer them on AND emphasize safety first. Time to play defense… against concussions.

SOURCE: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/symptoms-causes/dxc-20273155  

Gabrielle Hefner