Parents need to take active role when head injuries occur

When it comes to preventing brain damage associated with concussions in high school sports, parents play an important role.

Advice to parents from sports and medical experts is to be aware and responsive to what is happening with their children after a suspected or confirmed concussion.

If a child is thought to have suffered a concussion, parents need to monitor the situation to spot symptoms, or make sure symptoms of a confirmed concussion do not worsen. Telling symptoms can occur or change hours or even days after a concussion. Recognition of symptoms is crucial to preventing serious injury.

Parents also must ensure a child receives proper mental and physical rest to aid in recovery from concussion. Research shows that 85 percent of concussions among youth athletes will resolve in a week or less if properly treated.

Parents also play a role in determining whether contact sports such as football are a good choice for their children.

Experts advise parents to consider the size and physical maturity of their child when deciding whether to play football. It can be dangerous for a young athlete to be physically overmatched in a violent game.

Noted neurosurgeon Dr. Richard C. Cantu, in his book "Concussion and Our Kids," recommends that athletes 14 and younger do not play tackle football because their bodies tend not to be well developed before then. The younger the athlete, the more susceptible the brain is to concussion.

Cantu said there is no magic number of concussions that signify the end of a career, mainly because "concussions aren't created equal."

Severity of symptoms and length of time for recovery are better indicators of serious injuries that might mean it's time to stop playing.

And it is likely the parents who must help a young athlete make that difficult choice.

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