Concussion Safety for Athletes: What You Need To Know

As the 2012 High School sports season gets underway, we want to remind coaches, parents, and athletes of the importance of sports safety.

It is the time of year when we hear a lot about sports related injuries.  Not surprisingly, football had the highest injury rate (4.36 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures). For anyone who hadn’t already guessed that football is a very rough and vigorous sport. More than one-third of all high school football players sustain some type of football injury (including head and neck injuries and concussions).

The majority of catastrophic head and neck injuries occur while tackling or blocking, and defensive players are much more liable to sustain these injuries than offensive players. In addition to permanent and irreversible spinal cord damage, football players may suffer spinal concussions as well as spinal contusions.

Football is one of the most popular sports played by young athletes, and it leads all other sports in the number of injuries sustained. In 2007, more than 920,000 athletes under the age of 18 were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics for football-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Recent research indicates that in contact sports such as football and hockey, the odds that a high-school athlete will get a concussion during the season are near 20 percent. High-school athletes are three times more likely to suffer a second concussion than are college athletes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One study indicated high school football results in 90,000 concussions a year.

A study published a year ago in the journal Pediatrics indicated that between 2001 and 2005, the number of children 8 to 13 who visited hospital emergency rooms for treatment of concussion doubled, even though participation in organized youth sports declined during that period.

A new study confirms that football is still responsible for the majority of concussions at the high school level. According to our research, one in 10 high school athletes who play contact sports will suffer a concussion this year. Head injuries, including concussions, particularly in the game of American football, have become a subject of deep concern, much study and even Congressional hearings in the United States. Forty states and the District of Columbia have now passed strong youth sports concussion safety laws since May 2009.

States with Enacted and 2012 Introduced Legislation Targeting Youth Sports-Related Concussions

Youth Sports Concussion Safety Laws: Minnesota

On May 27, 2011, Governor Mark Dayton signed Minnesota’s youth sports concussion safety bill into law.

MN Concussion Law Announcement

Minnesota Legislature’s New “Concussion Law” Requires Online Training for All Coaches and Officials and Concussion Education for all Parents and Athletes Starting this Fall

The Minnesota Legislature recently passed a “Concussion Law” which requires any municipality, business, school district or nonprofit organization that organizes a youth athletic activity and charges a fee to follow the statute’s requirements, including implementing concussion training and education to improve player safety and establish safe return-to-play policies for athletes who sustain a concussion.

The law mandates that:

  • All coaches (head and assistants) and officials receive concussion training and education by September 1, 2011, and then at three-year intervals thereafter.
  • Coaches must remove an athlete from activity if they exhibit signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion and/or are suspected of sustaining a concussion.
  • The law also requires an appropriate health care professional’s signature to return to play if an athlete is removed due to a concussion or is showing signs or symptoms of a concussion.Heads Up cover

Information for Athletes

If you think your athlete has sustained a concussion…

don’t assess it yourself.

Take him/her out of play,

and seek the advice of a health care professional.

Parents and athletes do not have to complete the training but should access and review the concussion awareness and educational information available at CDC’s website:


Getting Back Into The Game

Safe Return to Play

Every year during football season, it seems, there is an article in the newspaper about an athlete who returned to football before he had recovered completely from a concussion. Getting back into the game too soon puts you at risk for another concussion. Concussions have become so widespread — and so many of them go undiagnosed.

If you suffer a repeat concussion before your first concussion has healed, it may take much longer for your symptoms to resolve and you may have long-term problems, such as learning difficulties or chronic headaches. Although it rarely happens, repeat concussion can cause permanent brain damage and even death.

New Recommendations

Ball-carrier head-down contact, an often overlooked danger, increases the risk of head and neck injuries

In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that young athletes with concussions be evaluated and cleared by a doctor before returning to sports. The American Academy of Neurology issued a similar statement, and stressed that doctors who clear athletes for return to sports should be trained in managing and assessing sports concussions.

These recommendations from the Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: The 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport, (Zurich 2008) provides guidance for a gradual return-to-play protocol after the athlete is symptom-free at rest:

  • Day 1: light aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, or stationary cycling) keeping exercise heart rate less than 70% of maximum predicted heart rate.  No resistance training
  • Day 2: sport-specific exercise, any activities that incorporate sport-specific skills (skating in hockey, running in soccer, etc).  No head impact activities.
  • Day 3: non-contact training drills
  • Day 4: full contact practice, participate in normal practice activities
  • Day 5: return to competition

If any concussion symptoms return during any of the above activities, the athlete should return to the previous level, after resting for 24 hours.


Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: the 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2008 Br J Sports Med2009;43:i76-i84 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2009.058248

Can youth sports injuries be prevented?

Accidents will always happen, but you can take steps to make sure your child is as safe as possible while playing sports or exercising.

  • Get a check-up. Many teams require this, but if your child’s doesn’t, schedule a pre-participation physical exam anyway. This helps identify any underlying conditions or other areas of concern.  Also ask about a pre-season concussion assessment, especially if your child plays a contact sport.
  • Get the gear. Make sure your child has all the safety gear she needs, including a mouthguard, and that it is in good condition. Periodically check for wear and tear and make sure sizes are appropriate.
  • Stay in shape. Proper conditioning helps prevent overuse injuries (such as stress fractures or torn ligaments). Your child needs to be sufficiently fit before he plays competitively. Cross-training (working many different muscles of the body) also helps.
  • Be flexible. Teach your child to warm up before a workout and cool down after. Stretching helps minimize muscle strains and other soft-tissue injuries.
  • Keep cool. To lessen the risk of heat-related illnesses, make sure your child drinks plenty of water before, during, and after a workout. Sports drinks work, too. If they are exercising outside, they needs sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat if possible.
  • Choose teams, programs, and coaches wisely. Find out how the organization works to prevent youth sports injuries. It should have policies and procedures in place to minimize risks to athletes. Coaches need to know how to use safety equipment and make sure players use it every time. They should also have a good command of basic first aid.

Keep Kids In The Game With Chiropractic

More and more you are seeing professional teams utilize chiropractic spinal adjustments. Why do you think that is?  When your body is in better alignment, your nervous system is finely tuned, all pistons are firing!!!!

Although accidents are an inevitable occurrence in anyone’s life, many sports injuries are easily preventable. Making sure that you follow these guidelines is an easy way to help guard against them.

By getting adjustments, the muscles, spine, and nervous system all work better to get the best power your body can deliver. This leads to better performance, fewer injuries and quicker recovery.  Find out for yourself how Chiropractic Sport Injury Therapies can treat many student, recreational, amateur, and professional athletes to help them get back in the game.