Every parent knows that it’s impossible to protect your children from the occasional scratch, scrape, bump, or bruise. But when it comes to protecting them from concussions, no measure is too much.
Below, Troy Norton, outpatient operations manager at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, offers tips to parents on how they can take an active role in preventing concussions.
1. Know the symptoms of a concussion
Even if you think you’d be able to detect a concussion from a mile away, it never hurts to refresh your memory of what symptoms to look for after your child has a fall or a tough tackle during practice. Some of the most common symptoms include headache, fatigue, visual disturbances, balance disturbances, memory and concentration difficulties, sleep disturbance, and emotional problems. Talk to your son or daughter about these symptoms, too, so that they can alert a coach or trainer if you’re not around.
2. Get the gear
You wouldn’t send your son or daughter off without a new pair of cleats or their uniform, so don’t let them practice without a helmet, either. Properly-fitted helmets are the first defense against a concussion or head injury. Talk to an athletic trainer about how to find a helmet that’s the perfect fit. While you’re looking for helmets, don’t forget a mouth guard, too. This important, but often overlooked, piece of equipment can absorb some of the impact if a player is hit near the chin or jaw.
3. Follow the rules
Whether you’re the coach, the referee, or the parent at a sporting event, it’s your job to blow the whistle on any unfair tackles or hits. Teach your athletes the importance of proper hitting technique, like leading with the body instead of the head when you’re on the field.
Remember that if you suspect that your child or athlete has suffered a concussion or exhibits any symptoms of a concussion, you are obligated to remove them from the game or activity and seek medical attention immediately. As the saying goes: It’s better to be safe than sorry. All athletes that have had a concussion will need clearance to return to play by a trained medical professional.