The readers’ forum

Test young athletes for concussions

 

This summer, hundreds of thousands of athletes around the country will start training and prepping for the start of the fall and winter sport seasons. Whether you or your child play a contact sport such as football, lacrosse, hockey, soccer or basketball, or participate in sports such as gymnastics or cheer leading, now’s a great time to get outside and work on your game — especially in sunny South Florida.

At the same time, thousands of those young athletes will have to be taken off the field for head injuries. Last year alone, emergency rooms across the country treated an estimated 175,000 young athletes, age 19 and under, for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

Professional football players aren’t the only athletes who need to be worried about concussions. The brain needs time to fully heal after a concussion. For kids, that period is even longer because any repeat head trauma increases the chances of serious, long-term problems. Consider these stats from Cleared to Play, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise awareness of concussion prevention and treatment:

• 15.8 percent of football players who sustain a concussion severe enough to cause loss of consciousness return to play the same day.

• 50 percent of “second-impact syndrome” incidents — brain injury caused from a premature return to activity after suffering a concussion — result in death.

That’s why my teammates at Broward Health Coral Springs want to make sure every young athlete in South Florida can get an affordable baseline concussion test before the start of the fall sports season. They’ve developed a concussion-care program staffed by credentialed ImPACT consultants, the only one of its kind in Broward County. That means you or your child can get the same baseline concussion test the pros get on the sidelines.

The ImPACT test establishes a baseline of an individual’s normal cognitive activity and then stores that information in a national database. In the event an athlete suffers a concussion, any attending physician around the country will know what normal cognitive function is for that individual, ensuring a full and complete recovery before getting back in the game.

ImPACT testing is available for children 10 and older and takes about 15 minutes to complete. It costs just $15. Visit BrowardHealth.org/ConcussionCare to schedule an appointment.

John Bock, retired NFL player, coach

and father of student athletes, Parkland

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