Helmets and concussion in sports…what’s the big deal?

I was a figure skater for many years and bumped my head more than once.  When my grandfather taught me to skate on the backyard rink I didn’t wear a helmet.  However, when my son learned on the backyard rink he did have a helmet on.  What’s the big deal about wearing a helmet?  Why is concussion in sports such a hot topic? Let me tell you why those of us in public health are concerned about this issue.

Popular sports and recreation past times like skiing, tobogganing, hockey, skating, bicycling and soccer carry a degree of risk and can result in serious – but preventable injuries.

Injury is the leading killer of Canadian children and youth from one to 19 years of age.  More than 40% of child and youth injuries treated in emergency departments are sport and recreation related. Head injuries were sustained during sports and recreational activities in 28% of children and youth who were admitted to Canadian hospitals with traumatic injuries.

We can’t bubble wrap our kids, so what do we do as parents?  Educate ourselves and take action.

What you should know about concussions:

  • tired teenaged boy“If in doubt, sit them out!”  Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion.  A concussion is actually a brain injury, it sounds scary because it can be.  If you are not sure if your child has sustained a concussion sit them out.  Parachute Canada has excellent resources for parents, coaches and teachers.
  • Report it!  The coach, your doctor, and your child’s teachers should know your child has had a concussion.  CBC’s Wendy Mesley of The National in her report Concussions: A silent epidemic? explores how concussions may be more common than we think because of under-reporting.
  • Rest!  Physical and mental rest is crucial to heal a concussion.  Young athletes will need to rest from their sport, but their brain will need to rest from all thinking activities as well.  This means no school work and no video gaming or TV.
  • Be a good role model.  Wear a helmet when you are out there too. Don’t tell your child to “shake it off, and get back out there.” Teach them it’s OK to sit out if you are injured. They’ll be better off going back to their sport when they are fully recovered.

Being physically active and participating in sports is a part of a healthy childhood.  But as parents, it is our responsibility to ensure their safety by getting the proper training, wearing the gear, and following the rules of play.  As a mother of an aspiring hockey player, that’s all I want for my child.

Share your experience:

For more tips and hints about injury prevention, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Nicholle Russell RN has been working in Public Health in the School Years Program for over 8 years.  She is passionate about youth engagement and creating opportunities for young people to become involved in and contribute to the community in which they live.  You may also find her at a rink near you… cheering on her son’s team, or ice dancing to stay in shape.

This entry was posted in Physical Health, Preschool, School, school health, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s