Looking at a recap of the numbers for the NFL’s preseason football games, it’s not the touchdowns or the rushing yards that grab my attention. It’s the number of concussions. So far this PRESEASON – the number of concussions among NFL players stands at 61.
That number was reached Sunday during the Houston/Denver game, when Wes Welker suffered a concussion – his third concussion in 10 months. By this time last year, the number of concussions stood at 40.
In all sports, from professional to amateur and youth sports, we are growing in our awareness of concussions. As statistics prove, they are reported more often today, and that will likely continue the more aware we become. Still, sports related head-injuries happen. And when they do, we all need to know what to do about them.
In Texas, football is king. And with the season about to start, 1,481 football teams are about to begin playing – and that’s just high school. Football is a great game. It’s also a tough one. As concussion awareness grows, more and more coaches are learning about the protocol for concussions. But parents of young athletes in elementary, middle and high schools need to be just as aware.
After a head injury
- Don’t rely on the athlete to determine whether a concussion has occurred. The athlete should be seen and diagnosed by a doctor immediately.
- The athlete should be removed from the game
- If a concussion is diagnosed, complete rest is required. This means the unthinkable: No TV, no computer, no texting, no radio, no reading. On the up side, no school, no homework. Sleep and relaxation are critical to resolving concussions.
- Return to school only when a medical professional has determined the concussion has been resolved. Every concussion is different. There is no universal time line for when a concussion will be resolved. In fact, concussions in young people take longer to resolve than for adults. It is also recommended that the first day back at school should be half a day.
- Initial return to practice should not involve body contact. The time needed to progress to body contact should be determined by the medical professional based on the severity of the concussion.
These steps may seem pretty strict, especially to young people. But they should be considered non-negotiable. Effectively diagnosing, treating and managing concussions are critical to full recovery – and lifesaving.