Knowing the signs of concussion important for all student athletes

August 24, 2018 06:34 PM

ALBANY - Recognizing the signs of concussion and treating the student athlete are critical. So is concussion awareness as brain injuries can happen in sports other than football.

High school sports have already started practice. That's what makes the timing of a special clinic so important. In Albany this week, a group drilled the importance of safety and awareness with athletes and coaches.


Whether it's rugby, football or soccer, using one's head wisely is key to injury prevention. That's why the Haka Rugby team stopped at Siena College for clinics this week. Along with drumming up support for the sport, these former players are driving home the need for greater awareness about safety on the field.

"A lot of moms are just turning away from American football now. They don't want their sons playing the game ‘cause it's dangerous. So if we can come in and assist, I think everyone wins," explained Regan Sue with Haka Rugby.

To that end, they're teaching proper form to reduce the odds of concussion.

"In American football, they coach to lead in with the head. What we're teaching them is how to lead in with the shoulder. Keep your spine in line. Keep it straight. Basically, tackle safe. At the end of the day, it's not even about keeping them on the field, it's keeping them healthy in life," noted Sue.

As Sue emphasizes, their sessions are about technique and awareness, because there are many situations that can lead to concussion.

"It can be helmet to helmet, it can be helmet to body and another player and it can be helmet against the ground or no helmet connection whatsoever. Just the body getting hit, the brain bouncing back and forth inside the skull can cause a concussion as well," cautioned Dr. Joseph Zimmerman, an orthopedic surgery specialist.

Knowing the signs of concussion are key. They include headache, confusion, or dizziness. Sometimes, an athlete won't remember the hit.

Feeling tired or groggy, nauseous, even vomiting and blurry vision are also symptoms.

Getting the affected player off the field is important. The old saying holds, "When in doubt, hold them out." 

"You want to catch these things early. Especially young players have developing brains. They're more at risk for long-term effects from repetitive concussions. Missed concussions can build up over time and lead to long-term effects," warned Zimmerman.

Remember, it's not just having your bell rung, as old time coaches might have said. Now, we should know better. Your bell is your brain and it needs protection and care.

"The attitude is one of awareness. People being aware that this is a problem and wanting to do something about it," pointed out Zimmerman.

I spoke with the high school football coordinator for the Capital Region. He tells me while football participation is down a bit, participation numbers are down across the board in high school sports. He says it's an alarming trend, because that means fewer kids are involved in athletic activities at a time when adolescent obesity is increasing.


Benita Zahn

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