What Causes Concussions? And How Can We Easily Test for Them in Youth Sports?

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With all of the new studies about the risk of concussion in youth sports, it's understandable if parents are reluctant to let their children participate. Still, there is plenty of scientific evidence that sports and cardiovascular activities promote health in children, as well as help them emotionally, socially and academically.

So what can we do to help children continue playing sports while also protecting against sports-related concussions?

The first thing to do is to recognize the risk of concussion and understand how concussions happen. Many people are under the impression that concussions involve bruising or bleeding in the brain, but that usually isn't the case, nor are most concussions caused by a blow to the head. Rather, concussion is usually caused by the head being suddenly jolted or stopped, such as when a soccer player's head is stopped when he or she heads a ball.

In other words, and as we discussed in a recent post, helmets are not necessarily effective in reducing concussions because helmets are designed to protect against lacerations or skull fractures, not the sudden snapping back of the head.

Basically, a concussion occurs when the head is suddenly jolted, causing the brain to bump against the skull.

Another important component of protecting young athletes from concussion is proper testing before, during and after play. 

For example, the King-Devick Test is increasingly used to assess the severity of head injuries in youth sports. The test, which involves timing the subject while he or she reads a pattern of numbers, can be administered prior to play in order to establish a baseline score.

Once that score is established, the test can be administered again during or after play in order to determine whether the young person has experienced a concussion.

For more on what schools in Ontario are doing to prevent sports-related head injuries, please see Gluckstein Lawyers' previous post on an important education policy that was implemented throughout the province earlier this year.




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