What every parent needs to know about concussions from school sports

In this photo taken Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, high school football team Kfar Saba Hawks, right, play against Mazkeret Batya Gorillas in Kfar Saba, Israel. A growing number of native-born Israelis have taken to the army-like strategy, camaraderie and collisions of the gridiron and turned America's Game, once a niche expat activity, into a popular fixture in the Holy Land. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

(WTNH) — Some student athletes are already on the fields preparing for sports like football and soccer. While fall sports are an activity many kids want to experience, medical experts warn concussions should be a huge concern.

Youth sports will start soon after the first day of school. Injuries are unfortunately part of these so called ‘high-velocity sports’.

Doctor Anthony Alessi, Director of UConn NueroSport at UConn Health, says a concussion is a neurological impairment that occurs immediately.

“So when they get up from getting hit are they uncoordinated? Are they holding onto a buddy? Are they holding their head? These are all signs from a child that may not be able to complain about a concussion. Even if you mildly suspect something is wrong, get that child off the field immediately and then assessed.”

His assessment includes checking for eye coordination.

“Because often after a concussion, the eyes will move in a jerking fashion, rather than smoothly,” said Alessi.

Five-year-old Liam Valyo volunteered for a demonstration. Motor ability and balance are also part of a doctor’s visit.

“Perfect, perfect,” Alessi said.

Liam’s mom, Heather Valyo, says so far no injuries for her son, who plays ice hockey, baseball, and soccer.

“As a mother you always want your kid to get into sports, enjoy themselves, learn about the whole team but it’s always in the back of your head about them getting hurt.”

If needed, an image of the brain can be part of the process to rule out bleeding.

“Especially in young people, because we know the brain is still developing,” Alessi said.

Dr. Alessi recommends interviewing the coach before a child suits up.

“You have to listen to keywords. I’m going to make your child tough. When you start hearing words like that get your kid out of there.”

For high schoolers, parents should ask about a trainer or other health coach.

“Is there a licensed healthcare professional in some way associated with that team?”

Dr. Alessi says to look for deteriorating symptoms within four hours of the head injury; which include a headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. If that happens, get emergency care as soon as possible.

If they are improving, you should still have them examined by their pediatrician. Treatment includes getting a lot of rest.


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