It’s time to put the spotlight on safety and help prevent head injuries in children.
Beyond having some good old-fashioned summer fun and learning new skills, you want your kids to stay safe while playing sports. And while most parents assume team coaches and leaders are up to speed on concussion risks and prevention, that isn’t always the case, says Shaun McMurtry, MD, a family physician fellowship-trained in sports medicine on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine.
“The state of Texas UIL (University Interscholastic League) requires school sports trainers and coaches to have a certain number of hours of training in concussion management, and all concussions must be sent to a concussion specialist. In youth sports, it’s harder with volunteer coaches and the infrastructure not being the same at that level,” said Dr. McMurtry.
But there are things you can do as a parent to help ensure that your child, and the rest of the team, is protected this season.
1. CHECK THEIR EQUIPMENT
Protective equipment is a top priority when it comes to injury prevention. “If there’s a helmet for the sport, you should wear it,” Dr. McMurtry says.
“And making sure that helmets fit correctly and are being worn appropriately is one of the first places to start.”
2. GO BY THE BOOK
Ensure your child uses proper form and understands and follows the rules that are in place to protect athletes.
“This can be especially important for younger kids in contact sports like hockey or football. Parents can take an active role in making sure their kids learn the proper way to play these sports,” Dr. McMurtry says.
Also, help prepare your child for the season by making sure they are getting into shape by the time the season starts. Being in shape before a sport decreases the likelihood of injury.
3. PUSH FOR A POLICY
Having a concussion plan in place that addresses prevention, as well as what to do if it is thought that a concussion has occurred, is an idea that’s picking up steam as concussion awareness grows, Dr. McMurtry says.
“Parents should feel comfortable voicing their concerns with the coach or league officials to find out if there’s a policy in place and advocating for one if there’s not.”
4. KNOW THE SIGNS
If you think your child has a head injury, or the child complains of a headache, dizziness, nausea or just feeling “foggy”, Dr. McMurtry recommends getting it checked out.
“Even if you are not sure, err on the side of safety. Concussions aren’t a minor injury like a scratch on the arm, so awareness is critical,” he says.
When is it time to call the doctor? Visit BaylorHealth.com/SportsInjury to learn the signs for a range of serious sports injuries, from concussions to torn knee ligaments.
Information in this post originally appeared in the July 2013 edition of Baylor Health Magazine.