The discussion surrounding concussion and the risks involved with contact sports is common in the news today. In fact, it’s hard to avoid the topic. Despite increased awareness, misconceptions surrounding this injury remain. With the soccer season fast approaching, concussion awareness and prevention are even more important.
We spoke with Dr. Aimee Custer, clinical sports neuropsychologist with the TRIA Sports Concussion Program about what coaches, parents, and players should know about concussions.
“You don’t just shake off concussion symptoms”
Concussion awareness tips for coaches
- Concussions are a serious, but treatable injury. Any athlete that takes a significant blow or jolt to the head, neck or body should be evaluated. All reported symptoms should be taken seriously.
- When in doubt, sit them out! It is important to be aware of all the signs and symptoms of concussion, including the subtle ones.  Signs and symptoms are not always obvious.
- Athletes may not always speak up about symptoms. Athletes are built to “be tough” and some will do anything to excel or please coaches and teammates, including ignoring or covering up symptoms. You are a role model – let them know you care.
“Concussions are treatable when managed properly”
Concussions awareness tips for parents
- Rest may not always be best; there are active treatments for concussion. Similar to an athlete recovering from a knee injury, working through mild discomfort is sometimes needed to make progress for athletes to recover from a concussion.
- This is not a “three strikes, you’re out” injury. Many people think it is necessary to discontinue contact sports after a certain amount of concussions; retirement considerations are different for everyone. Concussion is a highly individualized injury.
- Do not always believe what you hear in the media. There are many misconceptions about concussion and perceived long-term effects (e.g., Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE). At this time, there is no research that links youth contact sports to CTE.
“Strong Players admit Symptoms”
Concussions awareness tips for players
- Never play through symptoms: Athletes that remained in play with symptoms on the day of injury were nine times more likely to have a longer recovery (greater than three weeks).
- This is not a “one size fits all” injury – the restrictions given to your friend or teammate may not be necessary for you. Everyone responds differently to this injury; our brains are very complex.
- Do not be afraid to speak up about symptoms. If you think you have a concussion tell your coach, athletic trainer, or parent even if symptoms are mild. Reporting symptoms does not make you weak!
 Elbin et. al (2016) Elbin R, Sufrinko A, Schatz P, et al. Removal From Play After Concussion and Recovery Time. Pediatrics.