Now that concussions have been labeled a public health issue in the athletic community with millions of young athletes experiencing its effects, there is an immediate need for concussion awareness across the country. Many high school and youth athletes don’t understand the potential consequences of sustaining a concussion and usually ignore symptoms. Thus, a significant number of concussions are simply not reported to athletic trainers or coaches. Underreporting symptoms is a common practice at the high school and youth levels and should be addressed with education strategies.
There are five key players that play an integral role in the management of sport-related concussions: student-athletes, coaches, parents/guardians, athletic trainers, and athletic directors. This article will solely focus on the student-athlete, but other issues will be developed to relay helpful tips to prevent and if necessary manage athletes with concussion.
What should a student-athlete do if they think they have sustained a concussion?
- Don’t Ignore It. Report It: Continuing to participate in sports when a concussion has been sustained only makes the symptoms worse. Don’t take the risk of trying to tough it out. If in doubt, report the symptoms to a coach or an athletic trainer.
- Get Checked Out: After symptoms have been reported to the appropriate authorities, make sure you get checked out by a health care professional. The sooner you get checked out, the sooner you may be able to return to competition.
- Take Care of Your Brain: Sustaining a concussion will affect your ability to do school work and everyday activities. It is important to rest from activities that strain your brain. A repeat concussion that occurs while your brain is still healing can cause long-term problems and affect you for the rest of your life.
Tips for Student-Athletes
- Get educated about the risk of concussion in sport.
- Learn techniques to prevent the occurrence of head injuries.
- Be willing to undergo concussion screening tests and assessments.
- Be familiar with the various signs and symptoms of concussion and report them to the athletic trainer and the coach.
- Follow instructions from a certified health care professional such as an athletic trainer or medical doctor.
- Encourage teammates to report signs and symptoms of concussion.