There has been a lot of talk these days about brain trauma and the lasting effects of concussions on athletes. I don’t think anyone is disputing the fact that there are lasting effects on the brain from concussions. In fact just this week a report came out that researchers at Evanston’s NorthShore Neurological Institute and UCLA found that brain scans of former NFL players, who had at least one concussion, were different from the brain scans of healthy men of the same age.
So what can you do to protect your kids from concussions? Can concussions even be prevented? It seems like helmets do a great job of protecting our kids heads, but what about their brains?
According to the CDC, there are things you need to know in preventing concussions and doing the right thing when they occur.
1- Make sure your athlete is wearing a helmet that is appropriate to the sport they are playing in. And make sure the helmet fits properly.
2- Make sure you check with your league, school or district about concussion policies. For example; if a child is suspected of having a concussion, what is the process of evaluating the child and when is it OK for them to return to play.
3- Create a concussion action play. Make sure your child understands the symptoms and dangers of a concussions. And make sure the coach has his or her own plan in monitoring the health of their athletes.
4- Coaches should always teach and practice safe playing techniques. Sometimes just learning the safest way to play the sport will keep the number of concussions to a minimum.
5- Strengthen the neck muscles. Some studies say individuals with stronger neck muscles have a lower rate of concussions.
6- Wear a mouth guard! Some studies have shown wearing a mouth guard can minimize the chances of a concussion. But this has not been proven.
The good news is that more and more studies are being done on how to prevent head injuries in all athletes. If you have any concerns, always check with your doctor.