Concussions in youth sports are a significant concern. Despite growing awareness of the risks associated with concussions, youth sports-related concussions have been on the rise in recent years.
Parents, coaches, and team doctors all share responsibility for keeping athletes safe. This means helping athletes understand the causes and risks of concussions, and it also means knowing when athletes need to be removed from play. Ensuring that athletes do not resume practice or play too soon is critical as well as the effects of a second concussion can be even greater if a previous concussion has not fully healed.
So, if you (or your child) are involved in youth sports, what do you need to know about concussion safety? Get to know concussions related to youth sports:
Why Do Concussions Occur in Youth Sports?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can result from either direct impact to the head or a severe impact to the body. As explained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) either type of impact “can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”
On the scale of TBI, concussions are generally classified as “mild” injuries. However, this characterization needs to be taken into context. All brain injuries are potentially serious and failure to treat concussions can potentially have significant and long-term effects.
Why are concussions prevalent in youth sports? There are a few different reasons. In some cases, concussions result from the fact that athletes are still building their muscles and coordination. They aren’t able to control their bodies as they expect and this leads to falls and other accidents.
Of course, many concussions are the result of collisions between athletes. This is most common in team sports such as football, soccer, and hockey, although collisions are possible in individual-athlete sports as well. While head-to-head collisions can lead to concussions, so can collisions involving athletes’ shoulders and other parts of their bodies.
Concussions can result from various other types of incidents as well. Being struck by balls and other objects, colliding with bars and other equipment, and falling while performing maneuvers and routines can also lead to concussions for athletes involved in all types of youth sports.
What are the signs that an athlete is concussed?
Being able to identify the signs of a concussion is important for all individuals involved in youth sports. This includes being able to identify both the physical symptoms and the cognitive effects.
Athletes May Experience Several Physical Symptoms and Cognitive Effects
A youth sports athlete who is concussed may experience a wide range of symptoms. As identified by the CDC, some of the primary symptoms associated with youth sports concussions are:
- Blurred vision or double vision
- Difficulty balancing
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering
- Feeling hazy or foggy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light or noise
These symptoms can onset immediately, or in the hours or days following a concussion. They can last anywhere from days to weeks. Immediately following a concussion rest is critical and then the CDC recommends an active recovery process.
Parents and Coaches May Observe Various Signs
In addition to these physical and cognitive symptoms, parents and coaches should be aware of various other signs of concussions as well. For example, following a fall or collision, the following are all signs that medical treatment may be necessary:
- The youth athlete loses consciousness for any amount of time (although a loss of consciousness is not necessary for a concussion to occur)
- The youth athlete is confused about what happened
- The youth athlete cannot recall events before or shortly after the collision
- The youth athlete repeats questions, asks for information to be repeated, or forgets things he or she would typically remember
- The youth athlete appears to be dazed, stunned, or unaware of his or her surroundings
Parents, coaches, and doctors should watch for these signs the day of the athlete’s fall or collision and in the subsequent days and weeks. If there are any indications that a youth athlete may be concussed, the best approach is always to seek a diagnosis from a qualified physician.
What Can Parents and Coaches Do To Limit the Risk of Youth Sports Concussions?
Given the risks associated with youth sports concussions, what can parents and coaches do to protect young athletes on the court, the mats, or the field? The CDC and the Connecticut State Department of Public Health (DPH) recommend:
- Ensure that parents, coaches, trainers, and athletes all understand the causes and risks of sports-related concussions.
- Establish and follow protocols for diagnosing athletes who may be concussed before they are allowed to resume practice or play.
- Have youth athletes learn and practice skills that reduce their risk of suffering concussions or potentially causing concussions in other athletes.
- Encourage athletes to practice good sportsmanship and not take unnecessary risks.
- Ensure that athletes follow the rules of their sport, and consider limiting physical contact during practices so that opportunities for concussions are minimized.
What Should You Do if Your Youth Sports Athlete has Suffered a Concussion?
If your child suffers a concussion while participating in a youth sport, what should you do? If you have any concerns about a concussion your first step should always be to seek medical attention.
You should also consult with a lawyer about your family’s legal rights. While some sports-related concussions are simply a result of the inherent risks associated with participation, concussions often can – and should – be avoided. Youth sports athletes can also experience unnecessary complications due to teams’ and leagues’ failure to provide prompt and proper treatment. As a result, families will be entitled to financial compensation in many cases.
Contact the Connecticut Sports Concussion Lawyers at Berkowitz Hanna
If you have questions about your family’s legal rights following a youth sports concussion, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To speak with a Connecticut sports concussion lawyer at Berkowitz Hanna in confidence, please call 203-447-0000 or request an appointment online today.