Awareness of the danger – and frequency – of concussions is growing. It’s not just in football. It’s a health risk in girls’ soccer too, whether from heading, collisions or falls.
In August, I joined a taping of the Chapel Hill radio show, Your Health with Dr. Adam Goldstein and Dr. Cristy Page. Former Olympic player Cindy Parlow Cone was there too. Dr. Johna Register-Mihalik and Dr. Lindsay DiStefano added recent medical opinion to Cindy’s practical experience. I took away three important points:
1. Our sports girls may be reluctant to take adequate time off to insure complete healing after concussion symptoms have subsided. Children live “in the moment”. But in a day, week, or month, they won’t remember missing those games or practices.
2. The results of untreated or improperly treated concussion are severe and can include constant, chronic headache and memory loss.
3. Girls’ motivation for returning to play, or playing injured, is to not let down their team. So parents must explain that allowing healing is in the best interests of their team, not just of the player.
Below is some great advice from Dr. Lindsay Distefano, a specialist in sports injuries:
As fall sports get started this fall, all athletes need to understand a concussion and not be fooled by common misconceptions.
• A person that says “I got my bell rung” may have a concussion and should be seen by a medical professional.
• There is no such thing as a minor concussion – it is an injury to the brain!
• A “normal” CT scan does NOT mean you do not have a concussion – it means you do not have an even more serious brain injury like a subdural hematoma.
• A headache after a collision or impact to the head may be a symptom of a concussion and should be treated as one.
• Anyone who is suspected of having a concussion should NOT return to activity that day and not until they do not have any symptoms of the head injury for at least 10 days, and are evaluated by a trained health care professional with experience in managing concussions.
• Risk of returning to sport too early after a concussion can lead to permanent problems in all aspects of life or may even lead to death.
• You don’t have to play football to get a concussion.