Concussions and sports

Educate yourself and your athlete. Be aware of sports related concussions and their symptoms.

We are a sports society. We begin introducing youth to sports from the time they are in preschool. As a parent and grandparent of athletes, and after numerous trips to emergency rooms, doctors and physical therapists over the years – I personally am well aware of injuries that can be sustained through sports. Today, health awareness has thankfully increased to take special note and treatment of the specific injury that many young athletes experience; male and female-concussions, particularly those who play football, soccer and other contact sports where head-to-head contact is bound to occur. Concussions are very real and should be taken seriously. Many young athletes are experiencing concussions. Sports are not going to disappear, so it is important to become more aware of, and educated about concussions.

Being familiar and aware of concussion symptoms as they are related to sports is crucial to the health and wellbeing of young athletes. It can affect them throughout their lifespan. It is not only crucial that educators, coaches and parents are concussion-educated; we must also impress upon our young athletes the importance of self-care in contact sports.

Concussion is most recently defined as, “a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces.”

Some of the following symptoms that are recognizable as head trauma after a sports head incident that may indicate a concussion are:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Visual disturbances
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Headache
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns

Athletes often want to continue playing without regard to acknowledging their pain or fatigue. They simply want to play; and as athletes, they are used to playing through their pain. With young athletes, it is important to impress upon them the importance of truthfully telling their coach, educator and parents if they are not feeling well. Taking one for the team isn’t what they need to do if they are feeling even the slightest concussion symptoms.

Being close to and involved with an athlete, it is important to not only watch the game and be a cheerleader, but to also watch your athlete while they are sitting on the sideline. If you notice they are not acting like themselves, make the coach aware of it. They may be wrapped up in the game and not take notice. Your young athlete may not say they aren’t feeling well because they want to be a team player; and they want to win.

We all want our youth to win. That includes taking care of them physically so they can rise to play another day in good health.

Learn about the symptoms and signs of concussions and talk to your young athlete about them. Impress upon them that their health comes before a game. That way, everyone wins.

Michigan State University Extension offers health and nutrition education classes and self-management workshops providing support and evidence based resources. For more information on chronic illness and healthier living visit

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