Concussions are very serious injuries, and we need to evaluate athletes and treat them very cautiously. In this video, I offer a simple way to handle any head injury, no matter how severe. Do not allow any player to return to the game after a concussion if there is any question one has occurred.
I’ve heard many adults who played football say that we are being overly protective of kids. They say things like, “I had lots of concussions, and I turned out ok.” And it isn’t just football. Many sports have risks for concussions.
My tip might sound overly simplistic and overly cautious. Maybe it is. But I would rather err on the side of safety than risk a much more serious injury.
The risk we run by allowing an athlete to return to the game after a concussion before his brain is fully recovered is that he suffers a much more serious brain injury. These “second impact” injuries can take months to resolve. Some players have lasting headaches and other problems for years. On rare occasions, a second brain injury can lead to death.
The essence of this tip is that sitting a player out with any possible concussion eliminates any decision-making. We know that athletes deny concussion symptoms in order to stay in the game. And coaches want to win. This rule would eliminate those pressures.
Instead, hold the player out and arrange for formal evaluation by a neurologist or other doctor and neuropsychological testing to properly determine a safe plan for return to sports.
This tip might keep some athletes out who possibly could have returned to the game 15 minutes later. I’d rather be overly cautious and not allow athletes to return to the game after a concussion and prevent further brain injuries than the alternative.