Football season is an exciting time for parents and kids alike - but as a parent, you know that playing football has some downsides for your kids. Namely, what are those hard hits and tackles doing to your child's head and body? While you can easily see a broken bone or lacerated skin, brain injuries and concussions are harder to detect - especially among young kids who seem to bounce back from anything. Here are a few ways to protect your child during the season.
Don't expect helmets to protect everything
Just because your child is wearing a helmet during their football practices and games doesn't mean their head is fully protected. A concussion happens when a traumatic blow causes the brain to shake inside its skull - and in many cases, a helmet can't protect the impact of such a blow. Your child might think that just because they're wearing a helmet they'll be protected, and that false sense of security may cause some kids to play more aggressively. It's important to explain to your child that their helmet won't protect them from everything.
Start the season right
When you know your child is going to be playing football during an upcoming season, consider getting an ImPACT or concussion baseline test. Sports leagues, sports medicine clinics, or even your pediatrician can provide the test or a prescription for it. The ImPACT test measures your child's preseason cognitive function. Then, if you child gets a concussion or is hit hard, their doctor will have a benchmark to determine the extent of the injury and if and when they'll be able to play again. It might seem like a lot of hassle up-front for something that might or might not happen, but you'll be grateful to have that peace of mind if your child has a head injury during the season.
Push flag football
Playing tackle football is inevitable the longer your child plays the game. Keep in mind, however, that most experts agree that kids shouldn't be playing tackle football until they're at least 12 years old. The brains of younger kids are going through incredible periods of growth. Constant abuse to the head can interfere with this growth. So keep your child in a flag football league instead. They'll reap all the benefits of playing football without the risk of head injury.
Get educated about concussions
Before your child starts playing football, take the time to educate yourself and your child about concussion symptoms and treatment. Anytime your child has a hard hit during practice or a game, their coach should remove them from the field and check for the following symptoms:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty remembering details or concentrating
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Loss of consciousness
- Being dazed or confused
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Blurry vision
- Personality or behavioral changes
If your child has any of these symptoms after a hard hit, they shouldn't return to play until they've been cleared by a medical professional.
Parents who worry about their child playing tackle football have good reason to be concerned. Thankfully, there are measures you can take to protect your child throughout the football season. Taking these steps allows your child to reap the benefits of playing a sport they love, while giving you more peace of mind about their play.