Did you know that last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), emergency rooms around the country treated more than 170,000 sports-related brain injuries, including concussions involving young players? And that number doesn’t count the ones who didn’t go to an emergency room.

Concussions are far too common. They are a serious brain injury. We’re learning more all the time about the consequences of ignoring them. Just last week it was reported that one in three retired NFL players is expected to develop long-term cognitive problems earlier than the general population. They’re talking about problems like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Yes, it’s scary. But unlike the early players in the NFL, we continue to understand more about brain injuries and how to diagnose, treat and manage them.

Football season is in full swing. So just to play it safe, here’s a list I recommend parents with young players put up on the refrigerator. Hopefully, if your child suffers a head injury, you’ll know about it immediately. But since we can’t be everywhere our children are, and since we can’t see a concussion, we can at least arm ourselves with knowledge and be proactive on their behalf.

If you believe your child may have suffered a head injury, some signs to look for:

  • Does your child appear dazed?
  • Is there confusion about homework or something else that should be known?
  • Is there lack of certainty about the game or the score or the rival team?
  • Is your child being clumsy?
  • Is your child answering questions slowly?
  • Was there loss of consciousness, even if for a few seconds?
  • Is there a change in behavior or mood?
  • Can your child remember the circumstances of the injury?
  • Does your child just “not look right”?

Things to ask your child:

  • Do you feel nauseated?
  • Are you dizzy?
  • Do you have a headache or feel pressure in your head?
  • Do you have blurry vision?
  • Are you sensitive to light or noise?
  • Do you feel foggy or down or just “not right”?

If you have concerns, don’t wait. Contact a medical professional immediately.

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