Protecting Your Football Player from Head Injuries This Fall
Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist
Protecting Your Football Player from Head Injuries This Fall
Football season is here, and that means your favorite players—from the pee wees to the pros—are out there practicing their drills and honing their skills on the field. Safety is an utmost concern, and increasingly so. But despite the precautions of coaches and parents, accidents can and do happen. Read on for tips to protect your family athlete (and your family’s budget!) from the costly consequences of football-related head injuries.
Heighten your concussion awareness
There were 244 concussions diagnosed in the NFL’s 2016 season.1 Alarming and newsworthy enough, right? But closer to home, one in five high school athletes will sustain a sports concussion during the season. Considering that high school football accounts for 47% of all reported sports concussions, are we doing enough to keep our players safe? 2
Maybe we can start with understanding the risks. Football players of all ages and levels are susceptible to experiencing serious and even life-threatening injuries out on the playing field. All it takes is one hard hit (or a bump, blow, jolt or ding) to the head, with or without a helmet. Here are some facts:
- The concussion rate (the amount of sports concussions taking place per 100,000 athletic exposures) for football is 64-762.
- In eight- to 19-year-old children, the greatest number of emergency department visits for concussions during organized team sports resulted from football3.
- Most concussions occur without losing consciousness.4
- Recognition and proper response to concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.4
- Athletes who have ever had a concussion are at increased risk for another concussion4.
- Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults4.
- Helmets may help lessen the impact of a hit, but there is nothing on the market currently that can completely prevent a concussion.7
It’s a serious injury, on and off the field
A concussion is a brain injury, and it’s critical that parents, coaches and players alike can recognize the signs of a concussion and ensure an athlete receives immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms, even if that’s days or weeks after the injury. Common symptoms of a concussion include:4,5
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Vision change
- Hearing change
- Mood change
- Nausea or vomiting
Recovery is key for the injured person to return to health and a full quality of life, physically and cognitively. Rest is the most important treatment. The athlete should not do any activities—including exercise, driving, reading or even playing on the computer—that may make their symptoms worse. Plus, their return to school or work should occur gradually and not until they feel better and school/work activities do not aggravate symptoms.4
Playing it safe
At the professional level, there’s always more being done to make gameplay safer. For instance, the NFL and its 32 club owners are now providing an additional $100 million to support engineering advancement, medical and neuroscience research1. On top of that, researchers at UCLA are working on a new material to replace foam in helmets and the US Army Research lab is researching the use of fluid-filled elastic straps to improve neck support6. But what can you do to promote football safety?
You can begin by accepting that football is a dangerous sport—no matter what. Commenting on how concussion risks are inherent in contact sports like football, Erik Swartz, professor and chair of the department of kinesiology at the University of New Hampshire, remarked in a LiveScience.com article,“…we shouldn't feel like we have to portray the game as something we can eliminate concussions from or make safe."6
Even so, you should encourage your family athletes to wear protective gear like helmets and mouth guards, and listen to the advice of their coaches and physicians. It can also help to make sure playing surfaces are even and free of potholes and that end posts are properly padded.
And because the unthinkable can happen, be prepared with a quality supplemental accident insurance plan. Even if you have savings set aside to help cover unexpected hospital visits, you may be surprised by how quickly funds get used up. Aside from your deductibles and coinsurance, you’ll likely have other costs associated with the injury like transportation to and from the hospital and even loss of income if you stay home to help care for your recovering child. An accident plan can help you cover these costs—and more.
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1 NFL Concussions Fast Facts. (2017, July 25). Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/30/us/nfl-concussions-fast-facts/index.html
2 Head Case - Complete Concussion Managements. (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.headcasecompany.com/concussion_info/stats_on_concussions_sports
3 Bakhos, L. L., Lockhart, G. R., Myers, R., & Linakis, J. G. (2010, September 01). Emergency Department Visits for Concussion in Young Child Athletes. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/3/e550
4 (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.biav.net/sports-concussion.htm
5 NFL outlines for players steps taken to address concussions. (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8017cc67/article/nfl-outlines-for-players-steps-taken-to-address-concussions
6 (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.biav.net/sports-concussion.htm
7 (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.biav.net/sports-concussion.htm
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