Sports-related concussions: Don’t be a head case

Consumer Reports News: October 04, 2010 10:41 AM

While other parents cheered the player who head-butted the soccer ball toward the goal, I was silently grateful that it wasn’t my daughter bouncing balls off her cranium.

Worries about sports-related concussions among young athletes are all over the news lately. Not long ago, a player feeling dizzy or disoriented after a hit to the head was often told to "shake it off!" This year, my daughter’s school started the season with a "concussion test"—a computerized exam that provides a baseline against which to measure a student after an impact to see if there is significant change.

While I’m grateful that concussion is now viewed as a serious injury, it seems like the focus should be on prevention, not just early identification and treatment. It’s not that I want to surround my kids in bubble wrap—though my daughter might be all for that kind of Lady Gaga-esque costume this Halloween. Bumps and bruises are part of growing up. I also don’t want to make my children timid, or discourage them from trying hard because they’re afraid of getting hurt. But the brain is a fragile organ and, unlike a martini, not meant to be shaken or stirred.

So what can I do? I cheer my daughter's team. I try not to contradict her coach. But I admit that I've encouraged her to find other ways to propel the ball than with her skull. After all, a head-shot to the goal may be dramatic, but a smart player can often find other ways to accomplish the same thing.

And that would really be using her head.

Erin Gudeux, sensory senior project leader

Read more about brain trauma and learn more about how to keep your young athlete safe and injury-free.

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