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.
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.
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 |
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