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Published: Tuesday, 8/27/2013

Fall sports bring warnings to be alert about concussions

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With fall sports starting at Perrysburg schools and recreation leagues, Safe Kids of Greater Toledo is trying to get the word out about how to treat concussions safely.

Lt. Tom Granata, Perryburg's fire safety inspector, has helped with Safe Kids of Greater Toledo and says that with school organized sports it is not as much of a problem. But in recreation leagues where a father may be the coach, there is a need for more education on concussions.

While football has been the most talked about sport, concussions are relevant in all youth league sports.

"Football players are taught now to tackle without leading with their head, but also baseball and softball pitchers are at risk of a hit ball coming at their heads," said Terry Kirkham, the manager of community outreach and injury prevention for the Toledo Children's Hospital. "Youth soccer leagues should not be head butting."

She noted that there is a law regarding concussion for youth leagues. The law says that if a child sustains a head injury, he or she cannot return to play or practice until he or she is examined and forms are signed by a physician clearing the child to play, she explained.

Ms. Kirkham said it is vital that players, coaches, and officials recognize and report symptoms of a concussion to prevent a more serious injury. Fogginess, forgetfulness, trouble focusing, vision trouble, headaches, vomiting, balance problems, fatigue, being sensitive to noise and light are a few of tell-tale signs of a concussion, Ms. Kirkham said. 

Based on 2102 statistics, Ms. Kirkham said, a child enters an emergency room every three minutes because of a concussion, and half of them are ages 12 to 15. For those younger children, she said, it takes longer to recover, from weeks to sometimes months.

Each coach, parent, official and player, she said, should be provided information about concussions no matter what sport or age. 

Matt Kregel, Perrysburg High School varsity football coach, said his staff takes head injuries seriously and if a player is believed to have a head injury, he is taken out of the game.

"We always teach to tackle with their head up and use their shoulder pads," he said. "We talk about how players are responsible to maintain their equipment like having enough air in their helmets, their chin straps tight, and mouth piece in. They have to adhere to the rules."

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.



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