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Protect Your Kids Through Preparation

By Minnesota Hockey, 10/22/13, 10:30AM CDT

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From the moment a child is born, parents have an innate desire to care for and look after their kids. That passion for protection can occasionally raise alarm bells as kids get involved in certain activities. Lately, one of the topics leading to those warnings and an increased focus on the safety of young athletes is concussions.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a 60% rise in emergency room visits related to concussions in youth sports over the past ten years.

Startling statistic, right?

But is it really as bad of a sign as it originally indicates? For most parents who are worried about the long-term safety and health of their own kids, the answer is likely an emphatic yes, but it may actually be a good sign.

Unlike the professional ranks, where some of the increases in concussions are likely related to players that are bigger, faster and stronger than in previous eras due to vast improvements in training methods, the rise in incidents at the youth level is mostly attributable to increased awareness. 

That is an encouraging sign for parents because recognizing these injuries and reacting appropriately is critical in preventing future injuries and long-term damage.

Concussions can occur in any type of physical activity. Even what seems to be a mild blow to the head or body can result in a concussion. In fact, most concussions occur without loss of consciousness, and some of the most common activities that result in these injures aren’t necessarily those you would typically predict. For example, the CDC lists bicycling, playground activities, football, basketball and soccer as the activities that result in the most concussion induced emergency room visits.

The good news is that while completely preventing concussions is very difficult, everyone now has much easier access to the most important tools available to fight concussions: awareness and education. If you want to help protect your son or daughter, here are three important steps for you to take.

  1. Get educated.  There are numerous resources available for concussion education. One of the best available is the CDC’s free, online training course.  You can also visit our Concussion Education page for hockey specific information.
  2. Complete a baseline test Baseline testing is a measure of a person’s balance and cognitive function prior to sustaining a concussion. Once a baseline is known for that individual’s normal level of functioning, the same test can be used to assess if a child/athlete has sustained a concussion, when he or she has fully recovered and is safe to return to play. 
  3. Memorize and watch for signs and symptoms. There are many signals coaches and parents can look for when assessing if a player has suffered a concussion.  It is important to know what these warning signs are and continuously be looking for them. In addition, listening to players must be a priority as they feel the effects of concussions first hand and can help detect them.

Just like scrapes, cuts, pulled muscles and broken bones, we cannot eliminate concussions from youth sports or any recreational activity. However, we can significantly reduce their short-term and long-term impact on our kids through a safer approach to the game, proper education, recognition and management.  Join us in protecting today’s youth through education and awareness by following the steps above!

And remember, "If in doubt, sit them out!"

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The National Dizzy and Balance Center (NDBC) is the official baseline testing partner of Minnesota Hockey. For more information or to hear about their team discounts for baseline testing packages at one of their four metro location, please visit www.stopdizziness.com or call 952-345-3000.

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