Chicago Sept. 12, 2012 – Fall sports are gearing up, and kids and teens across the country are suiting up for football, soccer and other activities. This season, parents and coaches can help keep young athletes safe by recognizing the signs of a concussion and understanding what to do for a concussion, say experts featured in a new video on BeSmartBeWell.com.
"Young children, teenagers and young adults are particularly at risk because their brains are still developing," says Julie Gilchrist, M.D., a pediatrician and medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one of the experts featured in the video Play Smarter: Sports and Concussions.
Because it can be hard to differentiate between a bump on the head and a concussion, it's especially important that parents and coaches understand the symptoms of a concussion and seek medical help if there's any doubt.
"We're dealing with the most important organ in the body, and we're playing with fire," says James R. Young, M.D., director of Rehabilitation Services at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Hear his advice and see the stories of young people who suffered brain injuries during sports at BeSmartBeWell.com/Sports-Concussions.
Each year, U.S. emergency departments treat nearly 175,000 children and teens for sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including concussions. Most kids recover quickly and fully from a concussion, but in some cases, symptoms can linger for weeks or months. A player who keeps playing while still suffering concussion symptoms is at risk for serious, permanent brain damage. That is why it's so important for young athletes to be symptom-free and cleared by a healthcare provider before restarting any activity.
"A second injury, even less severe than the first injury, can cause much more damage," says Dr. Young in the new video.
Football is a leading cause of sports-related concussions, but so are bicycling and playing at the playground. No matter what activities a child is engaged in, parents need to be alert to concussion symptoms and understand the possible serious consequences of a head injury.
BeSmartBeWell.com/Sports-Concussions provides practical information to help parents and young athletes manage the risks of a concussion. The website includes:
At the site, visitors can also sign up for the bimonthly Spotlight Newsletter and biweekly News Alerts for in-depth articles and breaking news on TBI and other important health topics.
BeSmartBeWell.com is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Divisions of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.