Active children and teens have many opportunities to take a fall or a bump that results in a concussion. Young children can roll off a couch, toddlers can fall and hit their heads while running around at the playground, and of course, all kids face the risk when they play sports.
Though parents can’t protect their children 24/7, they can take some steps to prevent concussions. Our team at THINK Neurology for Kids offers the following tips along with a reminder to bring your child in for an evaluation as soon as you suspect they might have a concussion.
Don’t rely on headgear
There’s no doubt that wearing protective headgear lowers your child’s risk of severe traumatic head injuries such as skull fractures. For example, a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of serious head injuries by 60%.
However, headgear doesn’t provide the same level of protection in all circumstances. Headgear absorbs some of the shock when your child’s head hits the ground or takes a hit.
However, headgear can’t stop the movement of your child’s brain when they sustain an impact to their head or body. Their brain can easily hit against the skull even with protective headgear.
New technology in headgear may help. Recent innovations like the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) and the Angular Impact Mitigation system add another layer of protection to lower the risk of a concussion.
Parents still need to do their research before choosing headgear. Not all helmets with the same technology offer the same effectiveness.
Encourage communication about concussions
Athletes never want to be sidelined or spend time away from the game. For this reason, they hesitate to talk about taking a hit or having signs of a concussion. Parents and coaches can overcome this obstacle by creating an environment where children and teens feel comfortable reporting concussion symptoms.
Insist on good technique and sportsmanship
Your child is less likely to have a concussion when they learn and use the proper techniques for their sport. They also have a lower risk of taking a hit, or hitting another player, when they play by the rules and follow good sportsmanship.
Children also need good role models. Don’t hesitate to take a proactive role if they have a coach who gets angry or pushes them too hard.
Keep an eye on home safety
Concussions don’t just happen during sports activities. Children can fall down the stairs or off a swing, to name just two of the many accidents that can happen at home and cause a concussion.
You can’t prevent all the possible accidents, but you can avoid obvious dangers. For example, you can install gates on stairs, use shock-absorbing material under the backyard swing, and make sure children are properly restrained in the car.
Monitor your child’s sports program
The best approach for preventing a concussion is to change some of today’s typical sports routines. While these decisions are in the hands of coaches and schools, you can advocate for safer policies.
Teens playing football have a higher chance of sustaining a concussion during practice than games simply because they practice many times during the week. One way to prevent concussions is to talk with the coach about decreasing the amount of hitting that takes place during practice.
In some cases, it may be appropriate for coaches to teach their young athletes to use safer tackling techniques during practice. The style of tackling used in rugby causes less force to the head compared to football. One study found that the average head impact in football is three times higher compared to rugby.
Delay full-contact sports
Athletic activities and team sports are great for physical health and socialization, but you may want to delay full-contact sports. High-school athletes are better able to learn the techniques that protect them from unnecessary movements that cause concussions.
If you have any questions about preventing concussions, call THINK Neurology for Kids or request an appointment online today.