Richey Wood – Certified Physical Trainer
“How could my child have a concussion? He was never knocked out.”
As a certified Athletic Trainer, I’ve seen otherwise caring parents push their child back into competition because believing their young athlete to be fine. Our parents and coaches used to tell us, “You just got your bell rung.” We now know it’s much more serious.
The clearest sign we can offer of a athletic head injury is the feeling that something just isn’t quite right. Some symptoms are more obvious. A headache or dizziness are easier to spot, but frequently the most troubling signs of a head injury can only be detected family members who know their young athlete is reacting or behaving ‘off-their-game’.
With the fall season, a host of youth sports activities return. Coaches, trainers and school administrators have been closely studying the impact of head trauma related to soccer, softball, diving, cheerleading and a host of other competitive collision sports following the growing awareness of football concussion dangers.
Certified Athletic Trainers work with schools and athletic leagues to make sure our young men and women competing in any sport are protected from injury. Every year, the Mississippi High School Activity Association (MHSAA) updates their concussion policy and protocol for any head injury involving a young athlete.
These guidelines will continue evolving as we learn more about the causes and impacts of concussions. For these guidelines to be most effective, parents and family members must be aware of concussion signs and symptoms. Familiarity will help identify when the child should see the doctor and aid collaboration with the coach, who ensures proper protocols and procedures are being followed at school.
With any injury, rest is the most effective treatment. Resting a brain means avoiding stimulation from brightly lit rooms, video games, cell phones and other electronic devices.
Guidelines for return-to-play are well-established across the state. Unfortunately, research around return-to-learn are still evolving for student athletes. Forcing athletes to miss a test or skip homework because they were injured in extracurricular activity is academic punishment. When is it OK to start exercising the brain after an injury? For now, the answer is unknown.
Richey Wood is a Certified Athletic Trainer with the Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center. To request an appointment at MSM’s Ruleville clinic at North Sunflower Medical Center, go to www.mississippisportsmedicine.com.