It’s pretty much their nature – team sports and injuries go together. But the rise in concussion awareness is making us all more vigilant about the broader issue of sports safety.

Over the last few years, there have been numerous studies and research on sports-related head injuries in young athletes. The findings have led to big changes in schools and local sports initiatives. Safety is increasingly becoming a priority – and a popular one at that.

In an October story written by Curtis Eichelberger, and published by the National Football Foundation, the foundation’s president and CEO, Steven Hatchell, stated, “The entire football community has developed a laser focus to address the concerns about the long-term effects of concussions. Sports will never be totally injury free, but we are taking significant steps to err on the side of safety in protecting the long-term health of our student-athletes.”

That’s a major shift in attitude. As a matter of fact, today, we have more guidelines for coaches, more information for athletic directors and trainers, and greater awareness among parents. As a result, the playing field for young athletes is safer today than it has ever been.

They say the devil is in the details. This is certainly true when it comes to what we’re learning. For example, we now know that young athletes who play one sport year-round have a greater chance of repetitive-use injuries. We also know that girls are suffering higher rates of concussion in sports like soccer, lacrosse and basketball.

Whatever we’ve learned up to this point is good. But we’re about to learn a lot more. This fall, in a nationwide project, 37,000 student-athletes in contact sports will be given physical exams for balance and brain function. The goal is to have a baseline that can be used if any of these athletes suffer a head injury.

For parents in the San Antonio region, your child doesn’t have to be part of that study to reap the benefits. You can have baseline testing right here. And it’s free.

At Impact Urgent Care, we offer a computerized neurocognitive test. It is a non-invasive way to obtain information on a healthy athlete’s brain. It’s a simple test conducted on a computer at our clinic. Once your child has taken the baseline test, we can use it in the event your child suffers a head injury. We would simply retest the athlete and compare the earlier information to the current information. This gives your child a tremendous advantage, because it helps to guide us in the individual care we offer in diagnosing, treating and managing a concussion.

The nationwide project is already being touted as a game-changer. But you can be a game-changer for San Antonio’s young athletes starting with your own child. If you are the parent of a young athlete, I urge you to bring your child in for baseline testing. As the article I referenced points out, “thousands of doctors, scientists, government agencies, athletic associations, equipment makers, and moms and dads have heard the call and are doing everything in their power to make sports safer for every kid in America. Be one of these thousands – and have your child tested.

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