by Dustin Briggs, Health & Injury Management & Prevention Coordinator
Brain injuries in sports are a hot topic right now. With the recent findings on Tyler Sash’s brain and the release of Concussion with actor Will Smith, there are more reasons than ever for a parent to fear the safety of their children in sports. However, you don’t need to immediately wrap your child in bubble wrap or pull them from a game to keep them safe. There are three things that will help you as a parent keep your child safe in the face of brain injury, but first we should identify what a concussion is.
When you hear the word concussion, you likely think of someone knocked unconscious during a game. However, a concussion is defined as a temporary disruption of brain function and can happen to a variety of extremes through a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Even “getting your bell rung” or what seems to be a mild bump to the head that doesn’t lead to unconsciousness can be serious.
So here are the top three things every parent should know about concussions to keep their child safe and healthy:
Be proactive in preventing concussions: While it’s impossible to predict when a concussion will occur, there are ways to help prevent them from happening.
Understand the signs and symptoms of concussions: Signs and symptoms of a concussion can show up right after the injury or you might not notice them until days after the injury. If your child reports even one symptom of a concussion from the list below or if you notice the symptoms yourself, keep your child out of physical activities and seek medical attention right away.
Know how to respond: In the unfortunate event that you believe your child has experienced a concussion, do not let your child return to play or to practice. Go to your athletic trainer or licensed health care provider who’s trained in concussion management to have your child evaluated on the same day the injury occurs.
Kinetic Edge currently has seven licensed athletic trainers on their team. Read more about them here.
After medical clearance by a licensed health care provider as defined in Iowa Code Section 280.13C, the timeline for your child getting back to their activity should follow a stepwise protocol, but you must understand that this process is delayed upon return of any signs or symptoms. The following protocol will assist you in determining your child’s readiness to return to the classroom first and foremost followed by the playing field.
Your child should be without symptoms at rest, with exertion (including mental exertion in school), AND have written clearance from physician, physician’s assistant, chiropractor, advanced registered nurse practitioner, nurse, physical therapist or licensed athletic trainer .
*Written clearance to return by one of these licensed medical professionals is REQUIRED by Iowa Code Section 280.13C.
Once these are met, your child can progress back to full activity following the stepwise process detailed below, but be sure that your licensed health care provider closely supervises this progression.
Please note that progression to return is individualized and should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Factors that may affect the rate of progression include: previous history of concussion, duration and type of symptoms, age and sex of the student, and sport/activity in which the student participates. A student with a history of concussion, one who has had an extended duration of symptoms, or one who is participating in a collision or contact sport may progress more slowly as determined by a licensed health care provider as defined in Iowa Code Section 280.13C, or their designee.
If you have additional questions, Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy employs several athletic trainers who are well versed and licensed in concussion management. Please call us at 866-588-0230 to discuss your child’s unique scenario.