INDIANAPOLIS — Football season is here, and so is the incidence of concussion.
But concussions are not just a football problem.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are between 1.6 and nearly 4 million sports and recreation-related concussions every year in the U.S. Young people, female soccer players and older Americans who fall are the three groups who are concussed most often.
Dr. Phil Blaney says he sees all sorts of people who suffer concussions.
“I see it a lot in band students who get concussed,” said Dr. Blaney. “With all they do, they are tired, and they march and get hit in the head with an instrument, occasionally.”
Concussion protocols are in place in the state of Indiana to protect young people. If a student complains of a headache, blurry vision, cognition problems or memory issues, they are pulled off the field and may find themselves referred to a neurologist.
Treatment for concussions used to be two to three weeks of rest, but Dr. Sachin Mehta and his team at Franciscan Health say there are new, better approaches.
“What we’ve realized, a more active approach is actually the best way to get through this,” said Dr. Mehta. “So now, current protocols are they rest for two, three days at most, and then we start a slow, graduated return to activity program.”
As for when students should start playing contact sports, Dr. Blaney says for his two sons, no younger than age 14. Coaches and parents disagree on this issue. So Dr. Blaney suggests there are some characteristics to consider to keep young athletes safe.
“Some kids who are tall and lanky with long necks and weak cores and weak necks, they probably need to wait awhile. Some kids are a lot more stout and are built for that sport, so they can start a little younger,” explained Dr. Blaney.
A good predictor of injury, according to Dr. Blaney, is a student playing in a sport that he or she really doesn’t like. That’s where, Dr. Blaney says, parents and students should have honest conversations about real goals and safety risks.