Sports Safety & Concussions with Dr. Baronas
Dr. Baronas defines a sports injury as "anything that can cause an athlete or child to miss time from their sport." Some of the most common injuries are sprains, strains, fractures, and concussions. There are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly a concussion is and how it is diagnosed. In essence, a concussion is any mild traumatic brain injury. The main symptoms are headache, dizziness, vision changes, light sensitivity, and unexplained mood changes. Because many of the symptoms can be attributed to other health concerns, concussions can be difficult to diagnose. Despite the potential difficulty with diagnosis, it's important to err on the side of caution, especially with younger athletes. If you are unsure whether or not the athlete you love is suffering from a concussion or other injury, be sure to make an appointment with his or her primary care physician for evaluation.
There are several things that athletes can do to decrease their risk of injury. One of the most important is getting a full eight hours of sleep each night. This may not seem directly related to sports, but studies have found that children and teenagers who don't get eight hours of sleep each night are significantly more likely to sustain an injury than those who do. Proper hydration is also important for avoiding injury. In the short term, it prevents heat stroke and heat cramps, and in the long term, it helps to prevent kidney damage and other issues. An easy way for kids to tell if they are getting enough water is for them to look at their urine color. The lighter the urine, the better. Dr. Baronas said that the color should be close to clear; when it is darker than that, kids know they aren't getting enough water.
If you suspect an athlete has sustained an injury, Dr. Baronas says "when in doubt, hold them out."