Be aware, be proactive on concussions
Sauk Valley Media's sports concussion series wrapped up earlier this month. As the 2012-13 high school sports season begins, we urge greater awareness of these serious brain injuries and a new proactive approach toward dealing with them.
High school football season kicks off this evening. Along with the blocking, tackling and touchdowns will come inevitable injuries.
Most injuries are readily visible, such as bruises, scrapes and swollen joints.
An injury that is not readily visible was the subject of a Sauk Valley Media Sports Department special report over the summer.
The project's title was "The Hidden Injury: A Series on Sports Concussions."
By reading interviews with coaches, trainers, doctors, players and parents, people learned that concussions are a traumatic brain injury – actually the most common type – and are caused by a forceful blow to the head or body; they often result in unconsciousness.
Sporting activities cause about 300,000 concussions a year in the U.S.
Symptoms can include headache, blurred vision, dizziness and nausea, difficulty focusing, sleepiness, sensitivity to light and noise, and uncharacteristic emotions or mood swings.
Readers also learned about second-impact syndrome, a very serious medical condition that occurs when the brain is reinjured before having fully healed from the first concussion.
The series stressed that concussions are not just a football injury. Cheerleaders suffer concussions. So do basketball players and participants in other sports.
The series went further by focusing on athletes who have overcome concussions, debunking various myths about concussions, and describing various stances by coaches, educators and state officials toward the injury.
In particular, we learned the value of athletic trainers who can do pre-injury screenings, spot concussion symptoms quickly, then assist the injured athlete in his or her recovery.
The entire series remains posted on saukvalley.com; click the link for "The Hidden Injury."
We see tremendous value in high school sports, and we encourage participation.
We also encourage an enlightened, 21st century approach toward concussions, both in preventing and treating them.
CGH Medical Center offers a valuable service to anyone worried that they or a loved one has suffered a concussion: the CGH Sports Concussion Program hotline, 888-721-BUMP (2867).
Student athletes get only one brain; it needs to be protected. We support greater awareness of the serious brain injuries known as concussions and a new proactive approach toward dealing with them.
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