Preventing concussions in sports and the road to recovery if it happens

A Glenwood Springs Demon takes a knee to listen in as the coach addresses the team at the start of an after school practice.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

You can help prevent traumatic brain injury

Be sure to wear a helmet or appropriate headgear whenever you or your children:

  • Ride a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter or use an all-terrain vehicle;
  • Play a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;
  • Use in-line skates or ride a skateboard;
  • Bat and run bases in baseball or softball;
  • Ride a horse; or
  • Ski or snowboard.

Helmets should be age-appropriate, fit properly, be well-maintained, be worn consistently and correctly and be appropriately certified for protective use.

While there is no concussion-proof helmet, a helmet can help protect your child or teen, and adults, from serious brain or head injury. Even with a helmet, it is important to avoid hits to the head.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Returning to play after a concussion

A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury caused by a forceful blow or jolt to the head or body that disrupts how the brain normally works. A person does not need to be knocked out or lose consciousness to have a concussion.

Many parents wonder if it is safe for their young athlete to return to playing football, soccer, lacrosse or other sports after a concussion. An appropriately trained health care provider can answer these questions and provide guidance on when it is safe and sensible for an athlete to return to sports.

Athletes should not be allowed to continue playing sports, including practices and conditioning, while recovering from a concussion for a variety of reasons:

Recovery time: In one study among high school athletes, athletes who were immediately removed from play after a concussion recovered twice as fast as athletes who continued to participate.

Worsening symptoms: Strenuous activity soon after a concussion has been associated with worsening symptoms.

Increased risk: Parents and young athletes should be aware that a second head injury while an athlete is recovering from a concussion can increase the risk of complications, including the potential for worsening symptoms and longer recovery.

Catastrophic brain injuries, such as those that result in death or permanent neurologic injury, are extremely rare in youth sports. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that they can happen so that they can be identified immediately and appropriately managed.

Source: Children’s Hospital Colorado

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