According to Frontline, there have been 152 concussions in the 2013 – 2014 NFL season, with cornerbacks, wide receivers and safeties leading the pack.
Although 80 – 90% of these concussions resolve completely in a 7 – 10 day period, coaches and trainers have to be aware of potential long-term negative effects. So, it is vital to perform a complete evaluation both immediately and over a period of time to evaluate the potential onset of symptoms if the injury worsens. When players are pulled off of the field, a medical professional makes this original assessment:
- Is there a serious injury to the neck? Neck injury is often a byproduct of the same forces that cause concussion.
- How’s his nervous system? This injury is gauged by checking sensation, reflexes and muscle function.
- What’s the athlete’s ability to balance?
- Do they have a headache? Are they dizzy, nausea? Are there any visual disturbances, light sensitivity or noise sensitivity? What’s the overall affect?
In addition, these athletes have taken a series of baseline tests and the evaluator can compare what is normal for them to their current status. Baseline tests may also include a series of more complicated and time intensive computer-based modules that can be retaken post-concussion to evaluate for return to play.
The main goal of the concussion assessment is to rule out serious injury and to determine if in fact a concussion has occurred. If so, the player won’t be back on the field, monitored, and we’ll see him back next season. If concussion is ruled out, then safe return to play decisions are made and the athlete is back in action.
How do parents measure whether or not their child is “overdoing” it when it comes to multiple sports, practices, programs, etc.?
Over the past 25 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of youth participating in organized sports. As the programs become more competitive, the athletes are training harder and beginning at younger ages. They are playing year round, on multiple teams and often specializing in one sport. This has led to a very focused, repetitive activity and an increase in overuse injuries which now account for up to 50 percent of all injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine.
Many variables, including age, sport and skill level contribute to how long of a break child/student athletes should be given between sports; however, some good generalizations include:
- Young athletes should take one to two days off per week from games, practice and training.
- Young athletes should be encouraged to take at least two to three nonconsecutive months away from a specific sport activity during the year.
Guidelines for Parents
- Adequate rest is certainly one of the keys to staying healthy.
- Conditioning programs will typically start at least two months before the season and then taper down to a safe in-season maintenance program.
- Weekly training time, number of repetitions, or total distance should not increase by more than 10 percent each week.
- Pre-season and in-season prevention programs that focus on balance, flexibility and strength are especially encouraged for those young athletes with previous injuries.
- Remember, the more positive their youth sports experience, the more likely they will carry over healthy exercise habits into their adult life.
Hand Therapy Tips
Question: How can I avoid hand injuries while using portable electonics and video games?
The American Society of Hand Therapists offers both tips for when you are using these devices and exercises if you start to notice pain or discomfort after using these devices. Please click here for a printable version of their list.
Question: How can I protect my hands and prevent injuries while gardening?
From wearing gloves to switching out your activities on an hourly basis to avoid repetitive motions, click here for some injury prevention gardening tips, offered by the American Society of Hand Therapists.
Question: What is Tennis Elbow and how can I prevent it from happening to me?
"Tennis Elbow" is soreness or pain on the outside (lateral) side of the upper arm near the elbow. For more information, including causes and symptoms of Tennis Elbow, click here.
The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) offers several tips for the prevention of Tennis Elbow. For a printable pdf of this list, please click here.
Question: Injuries can happen at all hours of the day. How do I know the appropriate number to call?
- In any emergency situation, it is also best to call 911 or go directly to the emergency room.
- If the injury does not require immediate medical attention, parents may call St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine at (859) 301-5600 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael J. Miller. Most appointments will be scheduled within 24 hours.
- St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers Injury Clinics. Dates and times vary throughout the year. Click here to learn more.
Question: If the injury happens after business hours, how can I find out how to manage it until my scheduled appointment?
- Parents or coaches should contact their school’s Athletic Trainer to find how best to manage the injury until the scheduled appointment.
- St. Elizabeth Physical Therapy offers simple tips of what you should and should not do at home if your child has sustained an injury. To read about these tips, please click here.
Question: How do I prevent my child from getting a concussion?
- In order to prevent a concussion, make sure your child wears proper equipment for the sport that he or she is playing and make sure the equipment fits properly. Practice proper technique for the given sport.
Question: What do I do if I suspect that my child may have a concussion?
- It is important for parents to be educated on the signs and symptoms of concussions. To review these, please click here.
- St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers ImPACTTM testing. This computerized test can help to measure the cognitive/mental changes that occur when an athlete suffers from a concussion. To learn more about ImPACTTM testing, please click here.