Health Matters

Using Your Head: Common Sense is Key to Sports Safety

Fall sports are in full swing and for many young athletes, bumps, bruises and the occasional broken bone are considered part of the game. Fortunately, life-threatening injuries are rare. But, when they happen, parents pause to consider what’s best for their child.
URMC neurosurgeon Anthony Petraglia, M.D., thinks that’s a smart move. Caring for athletes of all ages who’ve suffered brain and spine damage, he knows just how devastating those injuries can be. Yet, he credits organized sports with providing valuable lessons—hard work, stamina, dedication and team-building—for young athletes.
three boys playing football
In recent years, there’s been a monumental change in football safety to reduce concussions on the field. Scientific research, which includes studies done at URMC, shows that blows to the head can have lasting effects on the brain. They can also be linked to a number of degenerative disorders in some athletes.
These findings point to the importance of preventing injury and “taking the head out of the game.” There is greater emphasis on teaching proper tackling, making on-field assessments of injuries after players sustain a head injury, and adopting the motto:  When in doubt, sit it out.
It can take anywhere from one to three weeks to recover from a concussion and it’s hard to predict who will have prolonged symptoms afterward. But it is critical that we let players recover both physically and cognitively, and that can take time.
When an athlete suffers a serious injury, like a concussion, parents are rightfully concerned. It is a good time for them to sit down with their child and physician and discuss the potential future consequences of repetitive concussions.
It’s important to reap the benefits of athletic participation. However, it has to be safe and not come at the expense of neurological injury.
URMC’s team of experts are dedicated to the care of head injuries—from sporting or other active events—through its Sports Concussion Program. Our doctors in URMC Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and the Department of Neurosurgery work with parents, athletes and coaches to provide the latest information in prevention of sports injuries and cutting-edge medical and surgical care if they happen.
Anthony Petraglia, M.D.
Anthony Petraglia, M.D., chief resident of Neurosurgery, is completing a neurological sports medicine fellowship. A sports fan, with particular interest in football, he is researching the long-term effects of concussions and traumatic brain injury.
Lori Barrette | 9/23/2013 | 0 comments


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Welcome to Health Matters, a blog aimed at keeping you and your family healthy. We offer advice from URMC experts on timely topics, as well as insight into breaking news and medical research. Visit us weekly for updates and invite your family and friends to check us out. If you have a topic you’d like to see us cover, please send a note to Lori Barrette.


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