Are Your Kids Playing Football? Read This First
posted: Jul 15, 2018.
Football is more than a sport; it’s a tradition, a culture, and for many, a way of life. The football field is a place where many boys (or girls) become men (women). It’s a place to learn countless life lessons like how to always give it your all no matter what. All the plays, hits, wins, and even the losses can never be forgotten.
My whole family played either soccer or baseball. Growing up I played soccer. However, all that changed when my older brother started playing football in the 7th grade. As it turns out, he was really good at it; so my twin brother, my cousins, and I all followed his footsteps.
I’ll never forget the day I fell in love with football. I was in the 5th grade playing for the ‘Broncos’ as a defensive end. The quarter back hiked the ball, I ran around, hit him really hard, and I saw tears in his eyes. My coach was telling me “Good job!”. It turned out that my favorite part about football was hitting, even though sometimes it hurt you more than it hurt the other player.
Later in middle school, I remember making brutal contact with other players quite often, especially during practice. It didn’t matter if you were the one tackling or the one getting tackled by someone with good form or not; a good hit always ‘rung your bell’. After a good hit it is common to lose vision, have ringing in the ears, and have a severe headache. This happens constantly throughout practice, and throughout a game.
During one of the last games of the year in middle-school, I was on the ground, on my stomach, reaching out for a fumble. As I was reaching out, a big kid got pushed back, tripped on me, and sat on my left shoulder. That was the first time my shoulder dislocated. Luckily, my shoulder slipped back in by itself as my coach was taking me back to the sideline.
Once I got to High School, football was a huge deal. My older brother was a senior while my twin brother, my cousins, and I were freshmen. We would get clobbered everyday by the juniors and seniors. I remember getting knocked-out during practice, and other times my shoulder would dislocate. This was pretty common to see on the field, and my injuries weren’t nearly as bad as other players.
I had to sit out halfway through my sophomore year because my shoulder kept dislocating. Usually my coach was able to put my shoulder back in, but the last few times I had to go to the hospital. (The last time it went out was during a basketball game senior year).
During my junior year, I was ready to finally have my first solid year with no injuries. I was so pumped up to get back on the field after the summer workouts. It was our first home game, and I had so much adrenaline that I was making field goals from the 50 yard line during pre-game (I was full back, linebacker, and kicker).
The next thing I knew I was in the hospital. I was so confused. Everyone was asking me silly questions, making sure I was okay. I had ‘lost my mind’ while remaining conscious, until the next day! I wasn’t making any sense while talking to people. While trying to recall what happened, I remember that everything had felt like a dream. All that I could remember was going into the game, ending up in the hospital, and vomiting all night. I was able to pick up a few bits and pieces here and there, but I had lost some of my short term memory.
After reviewing the film from the game, it turns out there wasn't a big tackle or hit that 'took me out'. We were only 5 minutes into the game when my teammates noticed that I wasn't responding as I should have been. My coach took me to the sidelines and confirmed that I was not in a right place of mind. I was then rushed to the hospital. The neurosurgeon diagnosed me with a grade 3 concussion after getting a CT scan.
I believe my concussion was a result of the pre-game/warmup drills where we hit each other, or perhaps an accumulation of the hits in practice earlier that week. Even though I love football, I am grateful that the doctors, and my parents never let me play again.
Here’s what you need to know before letting your kids play football or other full contact sports:
Football is the leading cause of concussions in high school sports for males, and soccer for females.
Football accounts for more than 60% of concussions in high school sports.
It takes longer for someone in high school to recover from a concussion than someone in college.
A concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to either the head or the body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull, and changes normal brain function.
There are 3 grades of concussion- Mild (1), Moderate (2), or Severe (3) depending on how long they are dealing with loss of consciousness and symptoms.
Sign and Symptoms include- headaches or ‘pressure’ in the head, nausea or vomiting, balance problems or dizziness, double or blurry vision, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, feeling sluggish, concentration or memory problems, confusion, not “feeling right” or “feeling down”
There are many athletes with concussions that go undiagnosed, and many that don’t seek post treatment.
Multiple concussions or a history of repetitive hits can lead to CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
CTE is most common in boxers, and football players.
CTE makes the brain gradually deteriorate and lose mass overtime.
Certain areas of the brain will atrophy while other areas become enlarged.
Some areas of the brain accumulate tau protein to stabilize cellular structure but can cause interference to the function of neurons.
Symptoms of CTE include memory loss, difficulty controlling impulsive or erratic behavior, impaired judgement, aggression, depression, loss of balance, dementia, and sometimes similar to other conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
CTE has been diagnosed in several professional athletes who have committed suicide.
If your child or teen gets a blow on the head and you see one pupil larger than the other, the inability to wake up, a headache that is getting worse, slurred speech, numbness, pain not going away, seizures, loss of consciousness, call 9-11 and get them to the emergency room immediately.
A CT or MRI scan will be used to rule out any bleeding or hematomas in the brain.
If your child or teen is dealing with post-concussion symptoms 6 months to a year later, send them out to get a PET or a SPECT scan.
Your child or teen should be removed from play if dealing with a major concussion or multiple mild concussions.
Post-concussion Treatments may include
Cognitive therapy or rehabilitation for memory and thinking problems.
Occupational, Speech, or Relaxation Therapy
Psychotherapy or Counseling for anxiety and depression
Medications and/or Chiropractic Care for stress, headaches, anxiety, depression, dizziness, loss of balance, and loss of focus.
Chiropractic care for vertebral subluxations or misalignments in your cervical spine.
Chiropractic care is essential for athletes to perform at their max performance.
Call our office or simply fill out your information below to see how we can help!
Giovonni Quiroz, D.C.
“Brain Injury Research Institute.” What Is a Concussion? | Brain Injury Research Institute, www.protectthebrain.org/.
“HEADS UP.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 June 2017, www.cdc.gov/headsup/index.html.
“Post-Concussion Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 July 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-concussion-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353357.