Winter sports are a great way to keep young people physically active during the colder months, but the risk of concussions can be an important concern when playing any sport. To help parents better understand concussions and the associated risks, Durham Region Health Department has developed a resource entitled “Heads-up on Concussions: What parents need to know”, which provides information on symptoms of a concussion, what to do to reduce the risk, what to do when you think your child has a concussion, and guidelines for returning to learn and returning to play.
A concussion is a brain injury that is caused by a bump or blow to the head or body, which causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. “All concussions are serious,” explained David Amot, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “Research has shown that incidents of concussions are on the rise and often occur in youth who play sports.” Certain sports have been found to put individuals at higher risk for concussions these include, football, rugby, hockey, soccer and boxing.
“Ten to 19-year olds are at greater risk for concussions because the teenage brain is still developing.” Mr. Amot explained. “The parts of the brain responsible for judgement, self-control, emotions and organization are not fully developed until age 25.”
Research has shown that concussions often occur in youth who play sports. Local hospital statistics indicate, the rate of concussion-related emergency department visits and hospitalization have been on the increase, in Durham Region, since 2011, in youth 10 to 19-years old, most often males, accounting for the largest portion of concussion injuries.
Prevention is the key treatment for concussion-related injuries. To help reduce the risk of concussions, youth are encouraged to:
• Play fair and show respect to other players.
• Play within the rules of the sport and within their ability.
• Wear the right protective gear, ensuring proper fit
• Keep gear well maintained.
• Make sure there is nothing that can cause a trip in the area where the sport is being played.
• Follow your sport organization’s concussion policy.
“Most people with a concussion can recover quickly and fully; however, for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks or longer,” Mr. Amot added. “Individuals who have had a concussion in the past are also at risk of having another, and may take longer to recover. Repeat concussions are serious and may require the individual to alter their level of participation in a sport, or [to] stop playing the sport altogether.”
To obtain a free copy of the resource or for more information on preventing concussions, please visit durham.ca/sportsinjury, or call Durham Health Connection Line, at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.
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