(08/31/12) - Concussions are really getting a lot of attention, especially since growing research shows scary potential long-term complications. They happen all the time and at all levels. As fall sports season gets underway, there are some things you should know to protect your young athlete.
It hit Mason Smith by surprise, during a pick-up game of basketball. "I remember playing, but I woke up in the hospital."
The 14-year-old's mother, Jennifer, remembers, "he kept asking the same questions over and over again and it really alarmed me as a parent because he never had a concussion and I would've never have known that was one of the things that happens."
A recent survey shows many parents do not recognize the red flags. Only eight percent know the risks of repeated brain injuries.
"That actually can be a catastrophic problem if someone actually re injures their brain before it's fully healed," says Dr. Mark Halstead, the director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Washington University.
The consequences of getting back in the game too soon can be worsened symptoms, longer recovery or death. Young athletes are at especially high risk of second impact syndrome.
"While they're still recovering from their first, can develop massive swelling in their brain and they can die," Halstead cautions.
Your diet can actually help speed up recovery. Studies show omega 3's can help decrease nerve cell damage. Creatine, found in meat, may also help.
Mouth guards and high-tech helmets are said to help prevent a concussion. Not every expert agrees.
Before hitting the field, your football players should do a helmet check, for loose attachments, broken welds and cracks in the temporal area.
Knowing what to look for is key, but Dr. Mark Halstead says when in doubt, sit them out. "It's better to miss one game than miss the season."
Conventional wisdom suggests you should wake someone who has just suffered a concussion every three to four hours. However, Dr. Halstead says, the best thing for the brain after a concussion is rest.
Mason slept 44 out the 48 hours following his concussion.
ABC12 Main Station