The Latest Science on Concussions
Nearly 4 million concussions are recorded in America each year. (Undoubtedly, not all are reported or diagnosed.) The majority of these are secondary to sports injury (Santoro, 2021).
The latest recommendations from the medical community suggest that after a hit to the head, every youth player should immediately stop playing or practicing and get checked by a doctor before return to play. Unfortunately, pressures from parents and the students alike can combat these best practice guidelines. The “professionalization” of youth sports sometimes creates an unhealthy competitive nature amongst even the youngest of kids. Every minute off the field is one less minute to shine and be noticed. “Benched,” even for health reasons, is a dirty word.
Adding to the conundrum is the fact that concussion symptoms rarely appear right away and may often be non-existent. Resultant headaches, loss of concentration, blurry vision, nausea, and/or loss of balance may or may not show up in the hours, days or weeks post trauma. If the idea of bringing every youth sports player to the emergency room or physician’s office after a hit seems untenable to you, you are not alone. Even the most cautious coaches, parents and student athletes many times resist doing just that for practical reasons.
What is the solution beyond awareness, education, and coach training? Perhaps sideline screening is the answer.
Concussion Evaluation Tools
I recently attended a concussion symposium at Hospital for Special Surgery, where emergency room and clinical interventions were discussed. On-field strategies were presented, but a user-friendly method was still lacking. Now SIDELINES ARE THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE!!
Presently, the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) is perhaps the most respected evaluation protocol used. Another is The King-Devick Test. It is used to identify head trauma right on the field and with immediate results. Through a series of timed, rapid number naming tests, a diagnosis can be made. Since rapid eye movements and attention have long been known to be head trauma indicators, using these visual pathways is a powerful tool. By comparing pre-season and post-trauma test times, either on the bench or in the locker room, concussions are identified and an athlete is removed from play.
Hopefully, team moms, dads, concerned teachers, coaches and athletic trainers can take responsibility for protecting our kids. We continue to look for “the ultimate tool for any team mom to use in assisting her to bring this affordable concussion-screening tool to her child’s school or team.”
Take The RFP Team Mom Playbook to your team coordinator, your proactive intervention can save a mind.