Heads Up

Allie Ryan, Editor

Head impacts and concussions caused by contact sports are a quickly growing epidemic among young athletes. When left undetected, concussions can result in long-term brain damage and may even prove fatal. September 20th marks the start of Concussion Awareness Week. There were 3,800,000 concussions reported in 2014. That number doubles the concussions reported in 2004.

Incurring repeated hits to the head and cumulative concussions have negative long-term effects on health. This includes an impact on cognitive processes such as learning, memory, and emotions, as well as on behavior. Concussions have also been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease with the characteristics of dementia, which has been diagnosed after death in athletes who experienced head injuries and concussions repeatedly.

There were 3,800,000 concussions reported in 2014. That number doubles the concussions reported in 2004.”

Despite the apparent increase in concussions in youth athletes, there are no comprehensive guidelines for when young athletes should return to play after a concussion, the researchers from Saint Louis University Hospital say. There are also no evidence-based guidelines for how treatment of these injuries should be managed. There is agreement, however, that the treatment of young children cannot be managed in the same way as that of older adolescents.

My family knows all about sports related concussions ever since my brother suffered from a concussion, fractured skull, and a minor brain bleed from being hit in the head with a baseball. At the time he was a helpless 10-year-old boy.

Tyler remembered,  “I just sat on the ground crying cause I really, really, hurt.”

Tyler was lucky. He spent only one night in the hospital and sat out for 6 weeks. He recovered and more importantly, he’s still alive.

Kourtney Cicio, a senior at GCHS, has suffered five concussions, four from playing soccer. “I had a lot of headaches but never had a severe one to where I was throwing up.”

Junior Kaleb Chism also suffered a concussion playing soccer. “I don’t remember much because I blacked out and I was super dizzy.”

Youth concussions can’t be prevented completely, but the rising numbers can decline. Here are some tips to prevent serious head injuries:

  1. Play by the rules.
  2. Wear the appropriate equipment for your sport and wear it properly.
  3. Always close a chin strap if your sport requires a helmet; many concussions occur during practice.
  4. Examine the playing field for uneven areas or holes.
  5. Practice good sportsmanship. Teaching good sportsmanship is part of good coaching.
  6. Learn and use proper technique for your sport. Some sports organizations have taken additional action to minimize the risk of concussion by limiting the number of contact practices allowed during the season.

Concussions can be a scary thing, but if you’re aware of this now very common head injury,  you can help lower these rising statistics.