Concussions in Youth Football
Concussions are a serious problem in football. According to the AMA about 6% of College football players sustain concussions during a typical season. Their latest study stated that many players are being rushed back into action while still exhibiting symptoms like dizziness, poor balance, cognitive impairment and severe headaches. The study found that more than 90% of the players were symptom free by day 7 if the players were on a regimen of complete rest . The study also found that 41% of players were rushed back to play too soon.
Risk of More Concussions
The AMA data showed that once a player has sustained their first concussion, the player was three times as likely to sustain a second or third concussion compared to players that have never had one. Nebraska’s own Turner Gill had to pass on a very promising NFL career due to sustaining three concussions over an 18 month time frame.
After the first concussion, arteries flowing to the brain constrict, restricting blood flow to the brain. This causes among other things, slower reaction times as well as higher energy demands on the players body. These symptoms put the player at greater risk once he is on the field, heightening his risk of injury.
Long term problems of the multiple concussion group included a nearly twice as high incidence of learning disabilities, memory loss, erratic behavior, slower physical movement, emotional difficulties, and poor impulse control. As stated in previous posts here on the blog, concussions don’t always result in unconsciousness. At the youth level it is silly to even consider putting a player back into contact before a 7-10 day rest period after their first concussion. Of course always have the player immediately consult with a physician and do not play anyone still showing the above symptoms.
Youth Football Coaching Implications
When coaching youth football, remember that this player has many future years of playing football in front of him, there is no need to risk permanent injury. Don’t even get me started about what your parents are thinking of you when you rush a player back into action after a concussion. In those cases you will have drained the entire balance of the “emotional bank account” you have with those parents.
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