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Participation of children in sports is increasingly becoming popular. The increased participation of children in physical activity presents children to various injuries such as brain traumatic injury and concussion (Caine 2014, p.3). Given the adverse cognitive effects associated with concussion, and higher susceptibility of children to concussion due to weak neck muscles, thinner frontal and temporal bones, comparatively less developed nervous system; as a parent it is necessary to come up with recommendations that reduce the risk of predisposing the child to increased risk of head injury and concussion.
The movie concussion directed by Peter Landesman and starring Will Smith clearly indicates the risk of concussion when it comes to sports, football included. In the movie, a talented football player starts losing memory, hallucinating and becomes violent due to concussion he suffered after injury during football. Duerson also commits suicide because of growing cognitive problems. The NFL was unaware that the sport caused the cognitive problems due to concussion and this indicates that the society is not aware of the risk of concussion during sports.
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One recommendation a parent should make is to ensure the child wears helmet when participating in sports. Helmets are designed to reduce the probability of head injuries from an impact to the head. The helmet achieves this by dispersing and distributing the energy of impact and also it protects the head from penetration. Evidence shows that devices such as helmets lower linear acceleration and rotational acceleration as well as the head velocity and hence a helmet has the ability to decrease the risk of concussion (Rivara et al, 2014, p.4). Helmets designed to decrease linear acceleration can assist in helping mitigating skull fractures along with other focal brain injuries and hence expected to reduce the risk of concussion.
In addition, headgear has been shown to change the duration of an impact as well as reduce the peak linear acceleration during heading and hence headgear has the ability to reduce the energy transferred to the head and hence reduces concussion risk (Meehan et al, 2011, p.136).
Another recommendation is to ensure sporting rules are modified, including padding of soccer posts. This is because the impact of padded soccer posts is significantly small when compared to the impact of unpadded soccer post to the head. Generally, modification of sporting rules should aim at ensuring that risks to concussion and other injuries are reduced as much as possible. All children taking part in sports and their coaches and trainers should adhere to these rules.
In addition, it is necessary to have education programs in order to increase awareness of concussive symptoms as this has been shown to lower the frequency and reoccurrence of concussions. Concussion education strategies are supposed to center in improving the perspectives and beliefs among children, coaches and parents in order to encourage improved care-seeking behaviors among children (Rivara et al, 2014, p.4). In addition, coaches, children, trainers, teachers and parents and anyone taking part in sports ought to be educated regarding concussion and how to recognize symptoms of concussion and manage concussions. Children and all those participating in sports should be encouraging to ensure fair play, respect opponents and eliminate violence as this can assist in reducing the incidence of concussions. Finally, as a parent, it is important to try advice children to take part in non-contact sport like swimming in order to reduce the risk of concussions (Rivara et al, 2014, p.4).
Brain injury and particularly concussion is a high risk in sport, especially in children. As a parent, it would be necessary to ensure that the child always wears headgear/helmet because this has been shown to reduce impact on the head hence reducing risk of concussion. Addition, sport rules should be modified to increase safety during sports and finally education programs on children, coaches, teachers, trainers and parents should be conducted to increase awareness of concussion and how to reduce the risk.
- Caine Dennis, Laura Purcell, Nicola Maffulli. (2014).The child and adolescent athlete: a review of three potentially serious injuries. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 6(22).
- Meehan William, Taylor Alex & Proctor Mark. (2011). The Pediatric Athlete: Younger Athletes with Sport-Related Concussion. Clin Sports Med. 2 30(1): 133–140.
- Rivara Graham. (2014). Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).
- Movie, concussion, 2015, Peter Landesman.