Lakeshore News Tonight

Concussions: What Parents Need To Know First

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November 14, 2013 — Concussions have become an eye opening reality of athletics.

“When Jim McMahon says football messed with my brain and I was getting concussions and I was still playing anyway.  When Indiana native Dave Duerson commits suicide and when he does so he makes sure he doesn’t shoot himself in the head, but in the chest so his brain can be researched.  These stories have really brought attention, these and so many others, to concussions in sports,” said Bill Stanczykiewicz, Indiana Youth Institute President & CEO.

The recent stories of two National Football League players and their experiences with concussions, shed light on the tragedy associated with contact sports.  Stanczykiewicz said concussions or brain injuries can be more serious for youth with less developed brains than adults.  He is using those stories to propel parents into action.  The youth advocate said parents can begin drilling youth sports coaches now before a few mistakes at little league lead to a lifetime of problems.

Stanczykiewicz said questions should include, “Do you check for concussions?  How do you make sure your coaches are trained not to get the kid back in the game, but to air on the side of safety?  You have every right to ask that question.  A lot of these youth coaches are volunteers.  The ones in the schools are paid, but only just a tiny stipend.”

He adds parents should keep a tally on what the team’s policy is about concussions, or the appearance of them, and discuss what testing and notification practices are done.  When it comes to letting their child play sports that lend themselves to concussions, some parents might forfeit, but Stanczykiewicz said play ball.

“You might think your child’s not wired for football, but it might not be a bad idea if they’re showing an interest to let them play.  There are not a lot of concussions on third and fourth and fifth grade football teams and yet that child who gets his the first time and says this hurts more than when I see it on TV, they’re going to self select themselves out.”

Parents of football players are not the only ones who should be concerned.  Stanczykiewicz said other ball players are at risk, “There’s a lot of attention on football, a lot of attention on lacrosse, and a lot of attention on hockey, but actually, we’re hearing about concussions in soccer because of the heading of the soccer ball.”

A final tip for parents is make sure youth athletes stay off the field until a health care professional approves their return.

By Renetta DuBose

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