Concussions are becoming more prevalent in youth sports.
While sports like hockey and football have taken the most blame for the uptick in athletes who play sports like baseball, soccer, and basketball are more and more likely to suffer concussions.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body that shakes the brain inside the skull.
Former professional hockey player Keith Primeau and Dr. Philip Devadan spoke to about 40 parents and children about concussions at the Wayne YMCA Wednesday.
“We live in a very competitive area with a lot of kids,” Devadan said. “I probably see between eight to 10 kids a week who are diagnosed with a concussion.”
About 90 percent of people who experience concussions, Devadan said, never lose consciousness. Other symptoms include blurred vision and slurred speech.
Devadan said that he often tells parents that if a concussion is severe enough to keep a child from reading or using a computer, playing video games, or using a phone or other electronic device for a few days, then he or she should stay home from school. Resting the brain and not stimulating it too much is critical to a patient’s recovery. But too often, children return to these activities, and to school, too soon.
“I see it all the time. Kids come back to school too soon because they’re afraid they’re missing school and work and they come to my office and say they have a splitting headache. Accommodations can be made for them,” said Barbra Corbett, nurse at West Milford High School. “They’re stimulating the very thing that was injured. I think that parents need to advocate more with regards to making sure kids heal properly.”
Primeau was diagnosed with four concussions during his 15-year NHL career although he acknowledged he probably experienced about 10 of them. He educates others about the dangers of concussions. He's the author of 'Concussed! Sports-Related Head Injuries: Prevention, Coping, and Real Stories."
He said that concussions could be a difficult injury for young athletes to deal with. Someone could have one but look perfectly healthy. There’s no cast or sling that others see.
“The biggest stigmatism with concussions is that you can see them,” Primeau said, noting that kids shouldn’t be too quick to rush back to sports or school after being diagnosed with a concussion. “If you don’t have your brain, you can’t live your life.”