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Kids and Concussions: Are You Ready For Some Football?

What would you say to Roger Goodell about the NFL’s opportunity to make youth sports safer?

Recent headlines about concussions and links to depression and possibly suicide are scaring parents. Many are thinking twice about encouraging kids to play football and other contact sports. Serious injury is on the line.

Happy is also on the line.

Happiness means doing what you love. If your child loves football you may be faced with a tough choice.  Perhaps knowing a few facts will help you choose well for you and your child.

A concussion is . . .

First, you’ll need to understand what a concussion really is. A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body and can be difficult to diagnose. According to the Mayo Clinic, parents and coaches should seek emergency care for a child who has suffered a blow to the head and who has these and other symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Headache worsening over time
  • Changes in behavior, irritability, fussiness
  • Changes in physical coordination, dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision, dilated pupils, unequal size pupils
  • Blood or fluid from nose or ears
  • Large head bumps or bruises on other than the forehead

Prevention

Next, you’ll need to be comfortable that the coaching staff responsible for your child can ensure the safest possible play. The Annual Survey of Football Injury Research is a great resource for safety recommendations. Below are a few biggies that you can ask the coaches about:

  • Proper neck strengthening exercises so kids can hold heads firmly erect when making contact.
  • Emphasized training in fundamental skills, particularly blocking and tackling. Contact should always be made with the head-up, never with the top of the head/helmet.  
  • Coaches and parents should know how to properly fit equipment, especially helmets, and take special care to check each player.
  • A player showing signs of head trauma should receive immediate medical attention and should not be allowed to return to play without physician permission. Coaches should never make the call.

Second Impact Syndrome, a second hit before full concussion recovery, most often results in death.

Care for kids

A kid can suffer a head injury playing football, soccer, lacrosse, or falling out of bed. You should know what to do just in case. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child who has suffered any head trauma should avoid loud music, computer, and TV if it increases the symptoms. Additionally, modify school work, recess, and gym participation, even postponing tests if needed.  “Any worsening of concussion symptoms or changes in behavior (e.g. agitation, grogginess, disorientation) should be immediately reported to your doctor.”

What would you say to Roger Goodell?

The NFL recently launched a comprehensive wellness program for current and retired players.  “NFL Total Wellness will empower players to make positive health decisions. . .”  Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

In conjunction with its efforts to help players at the professional level, the NFL is leading the way for a healthier and safer game for players of all ages.  I have been invited to participate in the inaugural NFL Youth Health & Safety Workshop hosted by Roger Goodell at the NFL headquarters in Manhattan later this month.  Among the contributors are Scott Hallenbeck, USA Football Executive Director, head injury consultants and representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Various speakers will highlight the NFL’s work to make youth sports safer and then the fun begins—we openly share with each other all that we know and is concerning us. They’ve asked me to come prepared for a lively discussion.

That’s where you come in.

The opportunity to create something wonderful exists right now. Please consider sharing your concerns, experience, and opinions. Now more than ever, parents must form a team that shares our collective wisdom and our fears with those who are willing and able to rally the nation.

So, what would you say to Roger Goodell? Email your comments to Lorraine@peacemaker-coach.com or post them in the comments section below.

 

Additional Concussion information:

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)  

Center for Disease Control – NFL Concussion Flyer

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rob August 09, 2012 at 11:38 PM
What is really funny is that if you yell at a kid in little league baseball, it's not acceptable. However, did you ever watch a little league football practice..... If little johnny got a broken finger nail playing baseball, it would be like "oh are you ok. Sit down for a while. Would you like some water.... If it was football, it would be like , " Come on , Get up, Stop crying. Be a man, What are you a girl".
Lorraine Esposito August 10, 2012 at 10:36 AM
I've see that kind of coaching, too Rob. I don't think either approach is especially helpful for kids. I sort of think that if Johnny is sidelined because of a minor injury, maybe Johnny felt he needed an excuse to justify not playing. Maybe. Sometimes kids feel they need to have a darn good reason (meaning -- a reason adults agree with) to avoid doing something they don't enjoy. Again -- maybe.
sayitsnotsojack August 10, 2012 at 01:10 PM
This speaks so much of what has gone wrong with children sports programs. These coaches and parents have totally forgotten what is important which is kids have some fun while learning through sports. Sorry to say it gets worse as kids grow older and the coaches and parents think they will be professional sports players.
Lorraine Esposito August 10, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Funny, that was something a field safety expert mentioned -- the unreasonable expectations of pro play and even college play. There are so few spots and so many players. It's sort of the same kind of pressure put on kids to test and interview well for placement in a prestigious preschool.
Lorraine Esposito August 17, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Just received a copy of Commissioner Goodell's letter regarding Youth Sports Health and Safety Find it at the link below. What do you think? http://www.peacemaker-coach.com/Radio-Interviews.php

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