With increasing news about the risks of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in youth contact sports, it is not surprising that the American Medical Association (AMA) recently adopted a policy in response. According to a recent article in Reuters, amid “rising concern about concussions in youth sports like soccer and football,” the AMA “adopted policies intended to lower the risk of these brain injuries and called for prompt diagnosis and medical care.”
The AMA’s recommendations focus on removing young players from the field after a suspected concussion and having stringent guidelines for return to play. Specifically, the AMA recommends that youth athletes should only be allowed to return to the field “with a doctor’s written approval.”
While the recent focus on youth concussions in sports has been on football, kids in other contact sports are also at serious risk of a TBI. For instance, the AMA conducted a study that determined more than half of all middle-school female soccer players reported remaining on the field after experiencing symptoms of a concussion, and fewer than half of them sought assessment by a medical professional. The AMA also discovered that around 15 percent of all high school athletes with concussions “returned to play too soon,” while about 16 percent of high school football players who sustained TBIs that “resulted in loss of consciousness returned to the field in less than a day.”
Proper Handling of Youth Concussions
It is important to be able to recognize the danger signs associated with concussions. The CDC highlights the following symptoms that we should be able to recognize in kids and teens:
- Drowsiness, including extreme drowsiness to the point of being unable to awaken;
- Having one pupil that is larger than the other;
- Headache that worsens and will not go away;
- Slurred speech;
- Weakness or numbness in the body;
- Decreased coordination;
- Nausea and/or Vomiting;
- Convulsions and/or seizures;
- Loss of consciousness, even if it is only for a few seconds; and/or
- Any other unusual behavior.
How should coaches and parents respond in the event that a youth athlete exhibits danger signs of a concussion?
- Stop play immediately: even if you are not certain if the child or teen has sustained a concussion, remove them from field of play just to be safe.
- Seek medical attention:in the event that a youth athlete has sustained a TBI, the AMA recommends that she or he only return to play after obtaining written approval from a doctor.
If your child recently suffered a concussion while playing sports, contact a brain injury lawyer to discuss your child’s situation. In some cases, you may be able to seek financial compensation on your child’s behalf.