Health Matters

Using Your Head: Safety in Sports

Sep. 23, 2013
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.
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.
UR Medicine’s 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.