March 31st, 2011

Concussion Awareness from Safe Kids

From Sarah Colamarino, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Johnson & Johnson

A few weeks ago, I attended a Youth Sports Safety Clinic for parents, coaches and community members at a local high school here in New Jersey, sponsored by Safe Kids USA and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The clinic explained crucial information, like signs of dehydration and ways to prevent overuse injuries.

JNJ BTW has highlighted youth sports safety over the past few months, so we’ve heard the statistics before.  According to Safe Kids, over 38 million kids participate in sports each year, with more than 3.5 million estimated injuries occurring each year.  Experts say that almost half of these injuries could have been prevented.   As a parent watching from the sidelines, I want my child to have fun, enjoy the game and not be sidelined with an injury

The panel, which featured an athletic trainer, orthopedic surgeon and neurologist, covered a lot of topics, including concussions. Even a minor fall or a collision with another player can result in a concussion. While concussions are most common in sports where collisions are routine, concussions can occur in any sport or recreational activity. So it’s essential that parents, coaches and our children understand and recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion so that they know what to do in the event one does occur.

There are many symptoms that could indicate that a player has been concussed. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Balance problems
  • Difficulty communicating or concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling mentally foggy
  • Headache
  • Memory difficulties
  • Nausea

For a complete list of signs and symptoms of a concussion, visit the CDC’s website focused on concussions.

So what should you do when a child may have a concussion? First and foremost, make sure the coach takes your child  out of the game or practice immediately, and  ensure your child does not t return to play until they have been cleared by a health care professional. The symptoms noted above can last from several minutes to months. Sometimes these symptoms can last even longer. If an athlete jumps back into the game or practice before his brain has healed properly, long-term damage is a real potential. I think we can agree that no game, practice, or championship is that important.

Looking for more information on concussions, their effects and what to do to prevent and treat them? Safe Kids USA and the CDC put together a concussion fact sheet for coaches, parents and schools, which has beneficial information for school teachers and nurses, and student athletes as well.

It’s important for kids to have fun, but it’s also important for kids to be safe. Talk to your kids and their coaches about the safety of your children. It’s an easy thing to do to ensure a safe and successful sports season.

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