Shake it off! If there’s no blood, get up and keep going! You’ll be fine; it was just a little bump! Does your head hurt? No? Good, then get back out there and let’s win this game!
Any of that sound familiar? If you are a parent with a child involved in sports, it might. We may tell ourselves – and our kids – that winning isn’t everything, but in our minds we want to win and we want to do whatever it takes to legally win that game/match/competition (some might go the illegal route, but they probably look far better in prison jumpsuit orange than I know I would). I grew up playing softball and cheering, and I assure you that I heard coaches and parents and teammates using those terms over and over again. In fact, I just used the good old, “You aren’t bleeding, you’re fine,” on my four-year-old when she fell on the driveway.
There’s nothing wrong with a little “shake it off” when the kids can move all their body parts and blood seems absent from the equation, is there? Actually, according to the National Football League (NFL), USA Football, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is. You’re not a bad parent (well, hopefully), you’re just uneducated when it comes to understanding the severity of a concussion and what it implies.
More than 38 million children are involved in youth sports each year and a staggering 1.6-3 million of those kids have suffered a sports-related concussion. With kids that participate in contact sports, you should know all there is to know about concussions; the signs, symptoms, and when to call a doctor. However, many parents, coaches, and youth athletes know little to nothing about concussions, assuming that you have to be rendered unconscious to suffer one. What a misconception; nearly 90 percent of all concussions occur without anyone losing consciousness.
Children not treated for a concussion are left at risk for brain damage or other disabilities. It’s a scary thought to know that your child could sustain a head injury at any time and you may not even realize it, which is what makes it so important for you to know all you can about concussions.
For this reason, the NFL, USA Football, and the CDC have partnered to teach you, your child, and her coaches everything you need to know about concussions as part of the Heads Up program, which is something you will continue to hear me discuss. By visiting www.cdc.gov/Concussion, you can take a free training course that teaches you all you need to know about recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion. It’s as easy as ABC; literally. You will learn to A – Assess the situation, B – Be alert for signs and symptoms, and C – Contact your child’s health care professional. You will learn what signs and symptoms to look for, how long to look for them, and what to do if you think your child has a concussion, which is to pull her from the game. When in doubt, sit them out.
After being invited to the NFL Headquarters in NYC twice to date to learn about and discuss the Heads Up program and the many, many things it has to offer (FREE to coaches, parents, and athletes), I cannot express to my fellow moms (and dads) enough how important it is to know what to look for when it comes to your child’s health and safety. The NFL, the CDC, and USA Football made a commitment to keep America’s youth safe in sports by educating everyone involved on what you can do to further ensure your child’s safety. I encourage you to take the online training program and share it with your child’s coaches, teachers, friends, and the parents of your child’s friends so that you can do your own part in keeping your kids healthy, happy, and safe. After all, you did give birth to them, and if anyone is going to take them out, it’s going to be you; not some other kid from some other team who doesn’t have a clue what childbirth feels like.