Concussions are scary — as an athlete, a coach, or a parent of an athlete you want to do whatever you can to keep yourself, your team, and your children safe from injury. And to make sure that they get correct treatment should an injury occur.
What Can I Do to Prevent Concussions?
Coaches and parents play an important role in concussion prevention and response.
First, you want to make sure all athletes get baseline testing BEFORE the season starts. Baseline testing is used to compare mental performance from before an injury to mental performance after an injury. This comparison helps determine the severity of an injury and the speed of healing.
Make sure your league, school, or district has policies in place for what to do in the event of a concussion. Policy statements should include a commitment to safety, a description about what a concussion is, and information about when it’s safe for athletes to return to play. Athletes should be required to be taken out of play until a health care professional evaluates them, says they’re symptom free, and can return to play. These statements should be required for all parents and athletes to read and sign.
Although concussions have been in the news a great deal lately, many people are not well-educated on what a concussion is or the consequences they can have. Before the first practice, coaches, athletes, and parents should all talk with one another about the dangers and long-term consequences of concussions. This should be repeated if a concussion occurs. Players need to be encouraged to be forward when they think they have a concussion to ensure they are taken out of play before they get a second head injury.
Use safety gear that fits properly and teach safe playing techniques. Make sure athletes understand that if they have a concussion they need rest — do not pressure them to get back on the field until they are fully healed. Make sure medical staff is on hand at games in case of injury.