Returning To Sports After A Concussion
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Athletes who suffer concussions or traumatic brain injuries must take care when returning to sports, or else they risk re-injuring and possibly even causing lifelong damage. Athletes often feel pressure, internally and externally, to return to play, but it is absolutely crucial that injured athletes are monitored and return to their sport slowly and deliberately. Athletes, parents, coaches and trainers/medical staff should work together to ensure safety.
First and foremost, the baseline for returning to play should be no concussion symptoms. Athletes who are still experiencing symptoms, no matter how minor, are not suitable to return to play. When they are ready, the injured athletes should begin slowly by introducing light aerobic activities. Slowly introducing more activity level for heart-rate increase is a safe way to monitor how injured athletes respond.
Athletes should also not begin playing again directly in a game environment. They should reintroduce themselves to participating first in practice, where there is less pressure or temptation to play through any pain or discomfort.
While athletes are responsible for speaking up when they are experiencing any symptoms, young athletes often think they can or should play through any pain. Parents and coaches have a responsibility to teach young athletes the importance of speaking up if they sense anything is amiss.
More on the 5 steps for returning to play is available at HeadsUp, found at this link, which provides information for parents on concussion and brain injuries.