We had a good turnout at the first VYS Concussion Awareness Night. Lots of great questions were asked by our membership and discussed by the panel. Big THANKS to Dr. Elizabeth Delasobera, Dr. Wendy LeBolt and VYS athletes Nell Dy Tang and Sarah Sheridan for their views and insights.
The game is much too important to lose and our kids are way too precious to put at risk. To save the game for our kids, we need a strategy.
Coaches and parents can:
- Educate themselves and their teams about the signs and symptoms of concussions.
- Baseline test your kids in SCAT (the iphone app is called SCAT2 that parents can download), IMPACT, and balance testing and have someone available to re-test kids with the SCAT2 on the sideline. ImPACT screening is done in high schools, but non-medical personnel can use SCAT2 and BESS balance testing. Be sure to invest the kids in doing as well as they can on the test so it provides a valid baseline. Avoid frightening them.
- Designate a person on the bench or sidelines to be their "confederate" in watching for "hits" of any kind during the game and tasked with assessing kids who have taken a knock using the Apps. SCAT2 can be downloaded. This person should be given the authority to sit a kid who shows symptoms of brain compromise.
- If in doubt, have your child out of the game and have the seen a physician within 48 hours. All concussions are treated differently after 48 hours and the child needs to see a doctor to determine the next step in recovery, but the first 48 hours is the same, no school, no sports, limit screen time.
- Not all concussions need imaging (CT or MRI) in fact most don't - if there's a severe headache, vomiting, the child is acting abnormally, or anything else you are a parent are concerned about go to the ER. They may just need to be observed, but may not need a CT. CTs have radiation so they aren't always the best thing. Make sure to ask the physician if they think it's indicated.
- Coaches can incorporate training that reduces the risk of concussion:
- Teach body control basics to young kids.
- Start to teach the technique of playing the ball with the head gradually and with proper form.
- Coach finesse and not force. Intentionally rough, physical play is dangerous. Respect your body and that of your opponent.
- Practice developing good field vision and awareness. Know where the ball is and where a challenge might come from.
- Work strengthening into your practices. Core and upper body strengthening are essential for standing up to challenges and protecting themselves in the air.
Dr. Delasobera can be reached at: MedStar McLean Sports Medicine, 703-288-8260
Dr. Wendy LeBolt can be reached through her website, Fit2Finish.com.
Here are links to a few Fit2Finish articles that families might find helpful: