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STEVE WOLFE'S 'SEEDS OF WELLNESS:' Helmets help prevent injuries

by on August 26, 2014 10:49 AM

As the last days of summer begin to wind down and kids head back to school, we often turn our thoughts to the sights and sounds of football in the area.

The bands, the cheerleaders, the fans and, of course, the players giving it their best efforts help to make fall one of the best seasons we have.

But football, and many other sports, also brings their fair share of injuries and, more specifically, concussions.

Concussions have gained traction in the national media thanks to the landmark lawsuit settled by the NFL and its players’ union. It’s also been forefront in the news because more and more schools, peewee programs and parents are finally starting to pay more attention to the head traumas that players receive.

It’s important to realize that concussions are actually injuries to the brain. Think about that for a second. It’s not a bruise that you can see or a cut that needs stitches, but an injury to your brain.

That’s what makes them so tricky and dangerous. And what’s even more alarming is that it isn’t always necessarily that helmet-to-helmet contact that causes them. A jolt or hard falls are also ways that can cause concussions.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are many simple ways to reduce the chances of sustaining a traumatic brain injury:

• Always use a seat belt for you and your children.

• Wear helmets when biking or playing contact sports.

• Make living areas safe from falls by removing tripping hazards and clutter.

• Use shock-absorbing materials in children’s play areas such as mulch or sand.

These are just a few simple tips to follow to keep you and your children safe. But it’s also important to know what to look for if you suspect a brain injury.

Headaches that linger, slurred speech and repeated nausea or vomiting are just a few common symptoms.

Difficulty concentrating, remembering new information, sensitivity to light or even things as simple as balance issues or abnormal sleeping patterns are also red flags.

Concussion clinics can provide a baseline for your child, and sports medicine physicians, like Dr. Eric Bohn, also see patients specific to brain injuries.

The point is to be vigilant if you suspect a brain injury has occurred. Most people recover quickly and fully, but an injury to the brain is not something to take lightly.

So go out this fall and cheer on your favorite football team, but remember to use good judgment when it comes to self-diagnosing concussions.

You are worth it.

Steve Wolfe, the President and CEO of Indiana Regional Medical Center, writes the periodic Seeds of Wellness column in The Indiana Gazette. His columns appear Tuesdays on the Health Page in the paper and in the Community News on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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