Moms! This stuff is serious. When you hear the word concussion all kinds of alarms should be going off! It’s not just a blow to the head. There is so much more that happens when the brain shakes inside the skull than what we realize. Concussions can happen at anytime, anywhere, in a game or at practice. Concussions do not discriminate, that is a fact. Even with protective gear, all athletes are potential victims. YIKES! So what can we do to keep our athletes safe?
What is a concussion?
As scary as it sounds, a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. The brain moves in a rapid, sometimes violent manner, striking against the skull. Think of it like an internal bruise. What happens is that the brain actually changes. Cells are killed and the chemical makeup of the brain is altered. The brain will never be the same.
Who gets them?
Everyone. However, ages 3-40 are more prone, due to their activity level. Interestingly, girls are more likely to experience a concussion. It may be due to their anatomy. Girls have smaller heads and less developed neck muscles than boys. Girls are also more likely to speak up when they feel like something is not right with their body. So be sure to evaluate your sons in more depth. They do not need to “shake it off” and keep going. Remember you can not see a concussion.
Signs of Concussions:
This list can get lengthy. Simply, the easiest way to know if your child has a concussion, is to ask if he or she has a headache that will not go away. Observe your child and ask yourself these questions: Are they confused? Having trouble moving? Complaining of nausea? Also, be sure to check and see if their eyes dilate after shining a light source towards their pupils. The most obvious sign of a concussion is a blackout or loss of consciousness.
Rest. Your brain has encountered a jolt. When you get hurt, you stop what you are doing and chill. The brain is no different. Give it time to relax. Do nothing and stay awake.
For more serious concussions, seek medical help immediately. Not sure what constitutes a serious concussion? Then always choose to seek medical advice. Overreaction is the best route to choose when unsure.
Talk about concussions. Emphasize the “nope zone.” Yes, it is a made up word. I teach my kids: the “nope zone” is the area from head to neck that you are not allowed to hit or receive hits. One of the greatest athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali, suffered long term effects from all of the blows he took to the “nope zone.” When athletes see the severity of what happens from a concussion they will be more likely to prevent themselves or others from harm. I know from personal experience.
I was one of those kids that did not take concussions seriously. When I was 16 years old, that all changed. My twin sister, Amanda, and I were warming up for a soccer game, when I decided it would be a spectacular idea to play “who can kick the ball the hardest.” I was first, and I kicked the ball as hard as I could muster, towards my twin’s face. It was most likely the hardest kick of my life and it was right on target. The ball met Amanda’s face, causing her to fly backwards. I began laughing. I had knocked her to the ground. She blacked out. And I ran towards her, laughing! I did not make it to where she was laying on the ground. A soccer mom came running towards ME. While she made her way to my face, screams and profane words were knocking some sense into me. That momma let me have it. She told me I could have killed my sister. Laughing turned into crying. We left before the game even started. I had given my sister a concussion, plus two black eyes and a sore nose. I apologized. And to this day, I shudder at the word concussion and flashback to the lady who introduced me to the severity of that word.
Outstanding job in taking steps to protect your athlete! Our players will get hurt. It comes with the territory, right?! Some will come away with scrapes or broken bones, while others will get the dreaded concussion. Our job is to educate and maybe wipe away a few tears of pain. Now, get out there and cheer!
We can’t stop our “loves” from getting hurt, but we can try. Prioritizing safety will lessen the potential for injuries. Make every injury a big deal, especially hidden ones like concussions.