This time of year, as area student-athletes prepare to head back to school and back to sports, many will participate in weeklong camps with teammates. Conditioning and training are important, but one local Neuropsychologist advises students and their families to take extra precautions to prevent head injuries
Contributor: Contributor: Dr. Kelly Kollias, Neuropsychologist, Bancroft NeuroRehab
Monday, August 1, 2016
Considering our hotter-than-average temperatures this summer, it’s hard to imagine fall just around the corner. But for South Jersey families of children and teens, autumn often begins early – around August 1 – with the start of fall sports camps.
And these experiences are terrific for kids! Certainly, sports camps kick-start physical conditioning and training before a grueling athletic season and provide a way for students to meet and mingle before the school year. But the rising popularity of these off-season camps also presents off-season opportunities for injury.
As a Neuropsychologist with Bancroft NeuroRehab in Mount Laurel, I know how important injury prevention is – especially in young athletes, who may be more likely to experience a repeat injury in a short amount of time during an athletic season.
A concussion, a form of mild traumatic brain injury, can happen during any activity – from a casual backyard game to more intense athletic activity – and can occur no matter what a person’s age or abilities. Clinicians and researchers generally agree that education and awareness are essential in preventing and treating these injuries.
This time of year, we need to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion, which may include headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, lack of coordination, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating – and have the right tools to react should an injury happen.
Early detection helps individuals get the proper treatment and improve outcomes. At the same time, parents of young athletes should be aware that experiences of concussion can differ dramatically and symptoms may initially present as quite mild before progressing, which makes objective evaluation essential before returning to normal activities.
No matter the case, individuals should refrain from physical activities until they are completely asymptomatic and have been cleared by a health care provider who specializes in concussion.
Experts agree education also leads to more effective concussion prevention. Parents, coaches, athletes, teachers, camp counselors, and others who care for the welfare of our children and teens, need to start a dialogue regarding concussion safety.
Creating safety handouts and hosting meetings at the start of a camp or sports season can help promote a healthy and informed culture. Additionally, the development of a safety plan for suspected concussion may prevent potential secondary injury – one of the most important safeguards against long-term effects.
Before camp begins, and before our young athletes take the field this fall, remember to:
- Wear appropriate gear and equipment. In addition to those sports that mandate helmet use, The American Camp Association (http://www.acacamps.org/) recommends that helmets be used for any activities that involve a motorized vehicle such as skating and boarding, climbing or spelunking, horseback riding, and bicycling.
- Teach athletes to use proper techniques and skills within their sports. Aggressive or unsafe play can result in increased risk of concussion. Encourage participants to follow the rules, which are created to promote safety, in addition to fair play.
- Ensure that sports and recreation fields are in the proper shape and free from potentially harmful conditions.
Let’s work together to protect children and adolescents in our schools and communities from increased risk of concussion, and set the tone for a fun and safe break from the academic year!
At Bancroft NeuroRehab, an interdisciplinary team of experts assesses and treats each patient’s unique needs. From mild concussions and memory impairments to traumatic brain injuries, dedicated, compassionate clinicians aim to help individuals rebound, recover and reconnect after illness or injury.
If you or someone you know has questions about concussions or neurological health, Bancroft NeuroRehab can help. Dial 844.234.8387 or visit www.BNRinfo.org to connect with an Access to Care specialist and find the right expert.