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Protecting Young Athletes from Concussions or Their Effects

Protecting Young Athletes from Concussions or Their Effects

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and LearningRx has some tips to help parents protect their young athletes from concussions or minimize their effects.

• Check the condition of your child’s protective gear (helmet shells and cages for football, lacrosse, and hockey) and make sure it fits properly.

• Take your athlete to a local brain training center for an initial Cognitive Skills Assessment to provide a unique baseline. If your athlete later receives a concussion, they can measure the results—for cognitive skills like visual and auditory processing, memory, and processing speed—to see if the brain skills have been weakened by the concussion.

• Ensure that your child’s coach is aware of­—and following—the safest practices for suspected concussions (such as a required waiting period before putting a player back in the game).

• Make sure the team’s athletic trainer has a cordless screwdriver on hand during games to remove a helmet’s face mask if there’s a possible spine injury.

• Encourage your school to create or enforce rules regarding concussions. In 2010, Massachusetts enacted a rule that requires high school and middle school athletes with a suspected head injury or concussion to be removed from the game (or practice) for the entire day. They can’t return until they receive written medical authorization, and everyone (coaches, trainers, parent volunteers ­— even marching band directors) must participate in annual concussion training.

• Talk with your young athlete about the risks associated with concussions—especially repeated head injuries. Explain how to identify the symptoms and discuss their options to sit out during practice or a game, even if the coach doesn’t require it.

If your child or teen has suffered a concussion and you’re concerned about how their cognitive skills may have been affected, call your nearest LearningRx ( Center to schedule a cognitive skills assessment.