Concussion Awareness Helping Change Attitudes

20 Aug

I have stated from day one, that simple awareness of what a concussion is and how it should be handled will help with the epidemic and looming issues in all sports.  Football is the easy target but concussions come from all walks of life, mainly bike riding and wheeled activities like skateboarding.  Awareness is spreading, and along with that there will be changes to the things we enjoy.  They should not be taken away, but to prevent someone from doing that proactive steps must be taken.

Mike Cardillo of ctpost.com wrote an article about such culture change in his neck of the woods, Connecticut;

“There’s always been a culture of football about playing through injury,” Coyne said earlier this summer at a concussion awareness night in Westport. “It doesn’t seem like a real injury, like an ACL tear, so it doesn’t seem important.”

Across the board, only a few years after Coyne last played a down, attitudes toward concussions and how they pertain to the sport of football have changed, if not revolutionized.

And more changes are needed, if we are to stave of those that want to bubble wrap our kids.  The article explained the Pop Warner rule changes with practice, a good first step in my opinion, but there is more to be done without harming the game, as Chris Nowinski stated in the article;

“The way we were playing in the past, a few years ago, I wouldn’t expose any child to where you’re hitting three, four days a week, drills that never should be done with coaches who aren’t trained for concussions. That was the Wild West,” he said. “Now if we truly commit to attacking all the risk factors, which does include assessment and management, then it remains to be seen if it’s safe enough. Then it becomes a personal decision for the parents to make.”

And with that, the injury of concussion is not the elephant in the room, it is how the injury is managed, from the get go.  Remember that a concussion is a process where the injury is just the beginning;

The majority of kids do well with concussions when treated,” Lee said. “If you take care of it properly, initially, with rest, I think you’ll get better quickly. The problem is I’m seeing kids with symptoms that last for months because they keep doing things.”

One league in Connecticut seems to have their head on straight when it come to making proactive changes;

Carm Roda, president of the Westport-PAL in the FCFL, says his group has been proactive in trying to reduce concussions. In 2007, he said his group had reported 30 concussions, and that number dropped to five in 2011.

“That’s a significant drop, and that’s from education,” Roda said.

“If you don’t deal with cancer, it’s going to grow. If we don’t deal with concussions, they’re going to grow. We’re not afraid to deal with it.”

Roda, like others, readily admits there is no way to police concussions entirely out of the game of football, meaning awareness across the board should be mandatory.

“You can’t be afraid of something, it’s going to happen, so you have to ask how you can minimize it,” he said.

 

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One Response to “Concussion Awareness Helping Change Attitudes”

  1. A Concerned Mom August 20, 2012 at 12:31 #

    I agree with Chris Nowinski’s statement that it remains to be seen if it’s safe. I also believe that parents need full disclosure. Some of the statements being made in various media outlets about tackle football being safer than it ever was may be misleading parents (they really should have an accurate picture of the risks, which as of yet haven’t been fully identified). For children with PD or AD in the family, perhaps playing from age 5 to 18 or 22 isn’t the best idea. We also need to recognize that due to the lack of oversight, it’s up to the parent to determine if appropriate safety precautions are being followed (based on articles I read, there are night and day differences between programs).

    Concussion awareness, identification and treatment are extremely important, but once again, based on the personal accounts I’ve read, for some kids a concussion at an early age seems to set the stage for future injuries, lingering symptoms and eventual prohibition on contact sport participation (some of these kids seem to get awful medical advice as well, with some returning to play while still symptomatic). Who knows what the future will bring, but as of right now it seems as though a number of college football players have had to stop playing due to head injuries. What happens if going forward colleges are reluctant to recruit players who’ve been playing since early childhood, or who’ve participated in multiple contact sports?

    Football isn’t the only sport that’s dealing with this issue, but it does seem to be one which results in more sub-concussive hits than other sports. There’s a huge difference between wrapping a kid in bubble wrap and letting him hit his head a few hundred to a thousand times per season.

    Based on the reluctance of a number of states to even apply their concussion laws to club and league youth sports, I’m having a hard time believing that the proposed safety initiatives can be implemented across the board in a reasonable period of time. I fear there will be a number of programs that fall through the cracks, exposing some children to an amount of head trauma currently believed to be harmful.

    I happened to read an article on a flag football program which spends the last two years preparing players for the transition to full contact. Can’t help but wonder if that might be a better approach than the one currently being taken based on biomechanical and developmental concerns along with resource and other limitations.

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