Summer Sports: How to Avoid Concussions on the Field

In today’s technologically driven society, the amount of time the average person spends outdoors has dramatically decreased. Children are foregoing playing games around the neighbourhood in favour of playing games on their iPads, and adults would rather count their steps with a fitness tracker than go for a Bluetooth-free stroll in the park. While the weather restricts people’s ability to spend quality time outdoors for many months of the year, summertime is when everything changes.

Summer sports leagues are hugely popular, and despite all the tempting technology out there, they remain one of the top ways for individuals to get fresh air and exercise. However, many outdoor sports pose the risk of concussions, and many individuals are not properly educated on what this means.

So what Exactly is a Concussion?

Think of your brain as gelatin. When you shake gelatin on a plate, it jiggles quite easily. However, the brain is a sensitive organ, and when you hit your head hard enough, your brain can physically move around the inside of your skull.

When this happens, a concussion can occur. These traumatic brain injuries are far more common than most people think, and can have devastating effects on the lives of sufferers. While they are mostly temporary, concussive effects can include headaches, memory problems, and concentration, balance, and coordination issues. Although most people recover fully from concussions, a person who has suffered multiple concussions, such as an athlete, may not.

Sports-related Concussions

Any blow to the head can induce a concussion, and that is why athletes must take great caution when participating in sports. For women, soccer players experience the highest risk, at a 50% chance of occurrence. For men, football is the sport that has the highest risk of concussion – at 75%. Due to the startling fact that 47% of athletes report no symptoms after experiencing a concussion, it is imperative that you check in with your body if you fear a concussive blow may have struck you.

Once an athlete has experienced their first concussion, the likelihood of sustaining another one doubles. Concussion reoccurrence is very common, in fact, if an athlete has had two concussions, they are 2-4 times more likely to sustain a third. Furthermore, if an athlete has experienced three concussions, they are 3-9 times more likely to experience a fourth. Each concussion leaves the brain more sensitive to future injury, and that is why preventative measures must be taken to avoid potentially permanent damage.

Minimize your Risk

Before hitting the field, ensure that you are aware of these effective strategies for minimizing your risk of sustaining a concussion:

  • Replace any old protective equipment with new gear. For example, if your helmet has fallen on the floor or been hit by another object, it needs to be tossed out for a new one, as helmets lose their effectiveness once they have suffered a blow.
  • Avoid head bumping the ball at all costs.
  • Sportsmanship is honourable. Don’t be overly aggressive because you may wind up hurt. In fact, 78% of sports-related concussions are sustained during games, when competitive rivalry is kicked into high gear.

Summer sports leagues provide the ideal opportunity for individuals to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. By educating yourself and implementing these preventative measures, you can participate in your favourite sports concussion-free.

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