Heads up: par­ents need bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of con­cus­sions

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Opinion -

Now that sum­mer is be­hind us, it­means stu­dent ath­letes ev­ery­where are gear­ing up to com­pete in their fa­vorite fall and win­ter sports.

And when kids play sports— es­pe­cially con­tact sports like foot­ball, soc­cer and hockey—they are at in­creased risk for con­cus­sions and other se­ri­ous in­juries.

But it doesn’t have to be a con­tact sport for your kid to get a con­cus­sion.

As par­ents, coaches and ed­u­ca­tors we need to un­der­stand the im­pact of a con­cus­sion, signs and symp­toms and when it’s ok for an ath­lete to re­turn to play af­ter a con­cus­sion.

Ath­letes some­times joke about ‘get­ting your bell rung’ or feel­ing a ‘stinger’af­ter tak­ing a hit dur­ing sports. How­ever, ado­les­cent con­cus­sions are com­mon and can have se­ri­ous consequences.

We can’t tell an ath­lete to ‘walk it off,’ we need to be able to rec­og­nize the signs and take the nec­es­sary steps to help our ath­letes.

So what is a Con­cus­sion: Con­cus­sion is a brain in­jury. Any blow to the head, face, and neck, or to the body that causes a sud­den shak­ing or jar­ring of the brain in­side the skull may cause a con­cus­sion.

A con­cus­sion can re­sult from any num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing re­ceiv­ing a check in hockey, fall­ing from a jun­gle gym, be­ing in a mo­tor ve­hi­cle col­li­sion or slip­ping on an icy side­walk.You do not need to lose con­scious­ness to have had a con­cus­sion. (Para­chute, Canada)

Signs and Symp­toms:

Headache, nau­sea or vom­it­ing, dizzi­ness, blurred vi­sion, fa­tigue or low en­ergy, sen­si­tiv­ity to light or noise, loss of con­scious­ness, gen­eral con­fu­sion or fog­gi­ness, dif­fi­culty con­cen­trat­ing, dif­fi­culty re­mem­ber­ing, more emo­tional, ir­ri­tabil­ity, sad­ness, ner­vous­ness or anx­i­ety.

What do you do if you ex­pect a con­cus­sion: You should re­move the ath­lete from the game and seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion. Do not leave the ath­lete alone.

Con­cus­sions from con­tact sports is a grow­ing con­cern amid ac­cu­mu­lat­ing ev­i­dence of how the in­juries can af­fect a per­son’s brain over time. We need to take the steps in un­der­stand­ing the con­cus­sion ba­sics. For more in­for­ma­tion and un­der­stand­ing when your child can re­turn to sport go to: parachute­canada.org.

Laura Lukye is a Health Pro­mo­tion Fa­cil­i­ta­tor with Pop­u­la­tion Health, Al­berta Health Ser­vices. She can be reached by e-mail, laura.lukye@ahs.ca

LAURA LUKYE, AHS

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