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Looking Out for Student Athletes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3.8 million sport-related concussions are reported each year throughout the country. Because student-athletes’ brains are still developing, concussions can cause serious, long-term damage when not properly treated. As we near the start of the school year and more sports seasons start, it is important to be mindful of student-athlete safety.

Concussions can be caused by hard hits to the head or body, which can happen in a variety of sports. Indiana’s concussion-related law works to help protect students in these situations. Coaches and assistant coaches of students in grades 5-12 who participate in interscholastic sports complete concussion certification courses to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussions. Schools also distribute concussion information sheets to parents and student-athletes.

Parents can also help protect their children by knowing the signs often associated with head injuries, like confusion, forgetfulness, clumsiness, loss of consciousness, or mood and behavior changes. Athletes with a possible concussion may also experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, balance problems, sensitivity to light or trouble concentrating.

If a student shows any of these signs during or after a practice or competition, they should receive immediate medical attention. Students, parents, and coaches should not try to determine the severity of a head injury on their own.

It is also important for a student to have time to recover if they sustain a hard hit that may have caused injury. Potential brain damage could result if an athlete tries to return to their sport too soon after a concussion. Under Indiana law, a student-athlete with a suspected concussion must be removed from play. They cannot return to their sport until 24 hours pass, and a health care provider trained in concussions and head injuries signs a release giving them clearance to participate.

The St. Vincent Sports Concussion Alliance in Evansville has helpful information and resources on concussion symptoms, awareness, and prevention. You can learn more by visiting or calling 812-403-DING (3464).

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