Use your head when dealing with concussions

Published 8:54 pm Monday, August 15, 2011

Football is a rough sport, there is no doubt about that. Large bodies armed with heavy equipment crash into each other for 48 minutes on the high school level and 60 in college.

With the frequency and force of these violent collisions, injuries are inevitable. The players know the risks of injuries going in, but it is up to coaches and parents to know the risks involved in recovering from these injuries.

Too many times a football player’s competitive nature takes over and makes the person believe he is ready to return to the gridiron when this might not actually be the case.

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Many injuries linger even after the symptoms have disappeared.

This is especially true of head injuries. The symptoms of a concussion are not always obvious to coaches and medical staff on the sidelines. But even with light symptoms, a concussion can be extremely dangerous.

A recent study found that up to 3.8 million sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States yearly, with the highest rates of emergency department visits for sports concussion occurring for those between the ages of 10 to 19. These injuries can eventually lead to cognitive difficulties such as memory and attention problems.

The problem is so widespread Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation creating a concussion task force. There is plenty of information available to help recognize the symptoms and long-term effects of a concussion. It is up  to the coaches, medical personnel and players to take action. If there is any evidence of a concussions, coaches should keep the player as far from the field as possible.

The players must understand that long-term brain damage is not worth winning a single game. Establishing a winning game plan isn’t the only thing that takes teamwork. It also takes a cooperative effort to keep our players safe.