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Football, like no other game, is a clearly a great part of American culture. And with all the excitement and cheers for tge game also comes the possibility of injuries such as concussions. As we are all aware, Will Smith stars in a movie called “Concussion”. If you’re not familiar,  it’s about forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu who while conducting an autopsy on former football player Mike Webster, discovers neurological deterioration that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. He attributes this disease to football-related head trauma.

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Whenever a concussion is mentioned most people think of it happening during football because it is such a hard hitting contact sport. But as you will read in this post, concussions can occur through other means as well.

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What is a concussion?

A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to either the head or the body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. A concussion changes how the brain normally functions. Concussions can have serious and long-term health effects, and even a seemingly mild ‘ding’ or a bump on the head can be serious.

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Head impacts and concussions caused by contact sports are a quickly growing epidemic among young athletes. When left undetected, concussions can result in long-term brain damage and may even prove fatal.

Concussions are fairly common. Some estimates say a mild brain trauma is sustained every 21 seconds in the U.S.

CDC reports show that the amount of reported concussions has doubled in the last 10 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that emergency room visits for concussions in kids ages 8 to 13 years old has doubled, and concussions have risen 200 percent among teens ages 14 to 19 in the last decade.

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While the first hit can prove problematic, the second or third head impact can cause permanent long-term brain damage. Cumulative sports concussions are shown to increase the likelihood of catastrophic head injury leading to permanent neurologic disability by 39 percent.

But it’s important to recognize the signs of a concussion so you can take the proper steps to treat the injury.

There are some common physical, mental, and emotional symptoms a person may display following a concussion such as headache, nausea, fatigue, or memory problems, sleep disturbances, or mood changes; some other symptoms are confusion or feeling dazed, clumsiness, slurred speech nausea or vomiting, balance problems or dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, sluggishness, ringing in ears, behavior or personality changes, concentration difficulties, or memory loss
symptoms are typically noticed right after the injury, but some might not be recognized until days or weeks later. Any of these could be a sign of traumatic brain injury.

In what sports are concussions most often reported?

Among high school athletes, concussions are most often caused by contact with an opponent, a team mate, the ground, or a piece of equipment or object in the playing area. In organized high school sports, concussions occur more often in competitive sports, with football accounting for more than 60% of concussions.

For males, the leading cause of high school sports concussion is football; for females the leading cause of high school sports concussion is soccer. Among children and youth ages 5-18 years, the five leading sports or recreational activities which account for concussions include: bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities, and soccer.

High school football accounts for 47 percent of all reported sports concussions, with 33 percent of concussions occurring during practice. After football, ice hockey and soccer pose the most significant head health risk.

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Sports concussions are on a dramatic rise – 1 in 5 high school athletes will sustain a concussion this year. More than 33% of sports-related concussions happen during practice.

To preserve the young athlete’s head health, mental cognition and ability to succeed, it is critical that coaches, players and parents are aware of the inherent dangers and how to properly perform a concussion evaluation.

The Head Health Management System is the only multi-platform head health management system that is designed to measure hits and help identify concussion symptoms. The system uses the Head Case Impact Sensor, a small device that is inserted into a helmet to monitor and measure head impacts.

By reviewing the athlete’s normal impact history and comparing to national averages based on impact data collected by other users, the Head Case Impact Sensor can detect head impacts of concern and alert coaches, trainers and parents when statistically significant thresholds are exceeded.  The Head Case Mobile App can help you perform a proper concussion test and concussion evaluation.

Without medical professionals present to assess the head impact or impact measurement data to review, head health management standards decline. Athletes are left vulnerable and ill-equipped without information readily available about their own health.

It is everyone’s responsibility when it comes to the brain health of athletes.  In all levels of athletics, the parents, coaches, staff, spectators and the athletes themselves need to be vigilant when it comes to head injuries. We must get baseline evaluations and use those when we evaluate the athletes for possible concussions. When an athlete’s brain health is in question,  err on the side of caution and take them out of play until properly evaluated and released by a physician. It is not worth jeopardizing one’s life (brain health) for a game.

*Disclaimer: The information in this post is for informational purposes only. Seek medical advice,  diagnosis and treatment from your own medical professionals.