Concussions prevalent in contact sports
Students urged to keep safe
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 17:09
As the fall weather becomes cooler, it encourages students to play sports outdoors. While this seems completely harmless, many students are unaware of the dangers, such as concussions, that can come with playing contact sports.
“The sports that are most at risk are contact sports,” Dr. Leonardo Oliveira, an assistant professor at the College of Medicine who specializes in sports medicine, said. “Football and soccer are the most common ones.”
While football and soccer are the most common sports that result in concussions, other sports should not be overlooked. Oliveira said sports like volleyball and basketball put students at a high risk for getting a concussion. Even playing baseball can result in an injury.
“If a ball hits the helmet or when you’re going to go reach out for a ball, there’s going to be contact from players,” Oliveira said.
Many students participate in intramural sports on campus. In an effort to prevent dangerous injuries, the office of IM Sports takes measures to ensure student safety. One thing the office does is limit the amount of contact between players.
“Our sports are based off of noncontact,” Ashley Lax, a graduate assistant at the IM office, said.
Lax also said that the office has athletic trainers who work on concussion awareness. If a scene becomes unsafe during an IM game, a player can be removed from the game. The IM office also encourages students who participate in IM sports to get insurance.
Students do understand that injuries can occur while playing IM sports.
“You can get a concussion. I did get one. I was playing soccer … I got kicked in the face,” Dakota Freed, a sophomore playing flag football for Zeta Beta Tau, said.
While most students feel the best way to avoid injury is to stretch, Oliveira warns that it can take more than that to avoid a concussion.
“The measures are really, I think, taking care of themselves. So, eating appropriately, making sure that they’re healthy in order to practice their sports appropriately,” Oliveira said.
Oliveira also said that preventing concussions comes down to a student’s equipment. Students need to make sure that their equipment is in good condition before playing a sport.
“I think technique is the proper form of how you do things. This is essential in all of sports,” Oliveira said.
If a student sustains a big hit or collision there are few symptoms that indicate that they may have a concussion. Oliveira said the symptoms are varied, but the key signs to notice are headaches, neck pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.
A few things can happen if a student receives a concussion and does not acknowledge it. Oliveira describes the best-case scenario as being short lived. A student can have symptoms for 12 to 24 hours and the concussion will not affect school or other activities such as practice. In the worst-case scenario, there are learning and behavioral changes that can affect long-term cognitive abilities.
“What we seek to avoid is second impact syndrome — when people have had a concussion recently and they feel that they are able to go back to their same activities — and the brain gets a second hit and that is usually much more severe than the initial one with much more serious consequences,” Oliveira said.
Oliveira explained that if a student feels they have a concussion, there are four things they should do. First, they should not get back into the play. Students should immediately pull themselves out of practice or a game and be evaluated by an athletic trainer. Second, students should follow the recommendations given by their health care professionals. Third, students should get mental rest. Oliveira stresses that this means not engaging in anything that is a stimulus for the brain — so, no texting, watching television or reading. Fourth, students should get physical rest and not run, jog or participate in weight lifting.