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“Take Me Out, Coach!” What Teen Athletes Need to Know About Concussions

You take a hit to the head on the football field, under the hoop, or in the ring. How do you know if you’re okay to keep playing? What teen athletes know about concussions could save their athletic career, and their health.

What student athlete hasn’t been told  to “tough it out” after an injury on the field? Training for many contact sports involves learning to play through minor injuries. But more and more, research is showing a concussion just can’t be one of them.

When you’re on a school sports team, there is pressure to impress, even when you’re hurt. In a recent story by the New York Times, football coach Dawson Dicks with CoachUp explained:

“Kids are often reluctant to acknowledge a concussion. . . . The kid may want a scholarship and want to go to college, or it could be that ‘Dad or Coach wants me to play.’ That’s when they’re going to start to be a little dishonest in what they’re truly feeling.”

But the push to keep playing can lead to decisions that will hurt teen athletes in the long run.

Concussions are Too Big a Deal to Play Through

Many head injuries are anything but minor. Scientists have connected concussions with mental health problems, trouble at school, and even early death. And that goes double for teens. Researchers in the U.S., U.K., and Sweden have found that a serious brain injury before age 25 drastically affected the lives of children, compared to their healthy siblings. Kids with moderate to severe brain injuries were:

  • Twice as likely to be admitted to an inpatient mental health facility;
  • 60% more likely to do poorly in school; and
  • 70% more likely to die before age 41.

According to Tad Seifert, a neurologist and director of the Sports Concussion Program for Norton Healthcare, in Louisville, Kentucky, that’s because:

“The developing brain has been shown to be more vulnerable to the physiological effects of the injury.”

Sitting It Out After a Concussion Doubles Teen Athletes’ Recovery Time

More students are being taught the symptoms of head injury than they used to. They know how important early medical treatment is. But the first step is much more simple: sit it out.

According to a study by the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, student athletes in a range of sports recovered twice as fast just by taking the time to recover right away. Players who were removed from the game right after a head injury took an average 22 days to recover. Those who kept playing faced an average of 44 days on the disabled list.

So the next time you take a hit on the field, don’t be afraid to sit it out. It could get you back in rotation that much faster.

David Christensen is a brain injury expert at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents brain injury victims against auto insurance companies. If you have suffered a serious brain injury, contact Christensen Law for a free consultation.