MYSA conducted their Winter Symposium on Saturday, February 7th. The symposium is designed for coaches and club directors to meet with top advisors from around the region. Besides coaching clinics and seminars on club administration, concussion awareness sessions were conducted by Chris Ashton. Chris is currently the Assistant Athletic Trainer for the University of Minnesota Football team. He is recognized at the national level as an expert in concussion evaluation and management.
In the youth soccer community, there are many questions about how to actively prevent concussions. The biggest piece of misinformation about concussion prevention, is that mouth guards can prevent a concussion. There is no information to date that suggests that mouth guards can help prevent concussions. Regardless, it is recommended that mouth guards are used for the many other safety benefits. There is protective soccer head gear available to purchase at many local sporting goods outlets. Unfortunately, there is no data showing that the head gear is reducing the risk of concussions. Of course with soccer, “heading” is a part of the game. At this point, the jury is still out on the act of “heading” as being a major cause of concussions. The one preventative measure experts know to work is neck strength. Well-conditioned neck muscles will help prevent concussions, and should be the current focus on preventing brain injuries.
It’s important to remember that concussions can be caused by hits to the body as
well as hits to the head. Of course all players are at risk for concussions at all positions, but our female players have a much higher rate of concussion. It’s imperative that coaches and parents learn how to identify concussion symptoms. We also need to understand that it takes youth athletes longer to recover from a brain injury than adults. Adolescent concussions typically take 2 to 3 weeks for a full recovery.
The SSPYSA has contacted the CDC and put together a concussion fact sheet for parents. (DOWNLOAD HERE) This pdf can be found on our website. I urge all parents to review this information. Please learn how to identify concussions, and what to look for. Currently, it’s Minnesota state law that if a concussion is suspected, the player must be removed from play. The player is not eligible to return until cleared by a health care professional.
When a player has been diagnosed with a concussion, recovery time can vary. There are some simple recommendations to follow during that time.
1. Don’t wake up children from sleep after a concussion. Sleep is the best thing for recovery.
2. Stay off devices, computers, and other stimulus. This will prolong recovery time.
3. No return to school until child is symptom free.
After a player has recovered from a concussion, and has been cleared by a health care professional, they should be slowly introduced back into activity. Currently, there is no “Go or No Go” test to see if children are ready for activity. Before returning to play, the child must not experience any symptoms for 24 hours. The University of Minnesota uses the following guidelines when introducing a recovered player into activity:
Day1: Light aerobics (Walk, Jog)
Day 2: Sport Specific (Run, dribble)
Day 3: Non-Contact Drills (agilities)
Day 4: Full Contact Drills
Day 5: Full Practice
Day 6: Games
Further information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/HeadsUp/