Odessa, TEXAS (Big 2) – Football players are practicing, getting ready for the start of the season. While it’s an exciting time, it’s also critical for players, coaches, and families to think about safety–especially with head injuries. Doctor Terry Beck from WesTex Urgent Care says he thinks that equipment companies have done a better job of creating protective gear, but helmet-to-helmet contact can be dangerous .
” Because that’s typically where the most severe injuries happen. That, and people getting blindsided kind of hitting. They’ve really tried to cut down on that type of play. It’s not good for the sport because of the potential for head injuries,” says Doctor Beck.
As Doctor Beck tells us, there is a spectrum when it comes to head injuries. They can range from serious conditions, to a mild bump on the head.
“They might have a little bit of a headache, or pain at the site. As the spectrum worsens, there may be other symptoms, typically with more severe injuries the symptoms are going to worsen. And if anyone has a head injury and they’re knocked out, they lose consciousness for any period of time. And I’m not talking about when they see stars, but they are actually unconscious, that is, by definition, a concussion.”
Doctor Beck says a person can still have a concussion even if they’re not knocked out. That’s why he tells us it’s critical to look for symptoms.
“If somebody has a head injury and they come in and they have even, 7 or 10 days later they’re having headaches, they’re having some amnesia, they’re having difficulty concentrating, they’re irritable, bright lights may bother them, there’s a whole spectrum of symptoms that may be associated with concussion and those symptoms can persist for a month or two or even more sometimes. Usually most symptoms will go away sooner than that.”
Doctor Beck tells us more sever symptoms can include acting differently, being more tired than usual, weakness in an arm or leg, and throwing up 2 or more times. As a former football player, the doctor knows that sometimes team members feel they need to play through their pain. But it’s not worth your health.
“20, 30 years ago, that was very common, not only from the players, but from the coaches. But now, we’ve gotten smarter, we’ve recognized that even a mild head injury, if there’s a repeat head injury in a short period of time, can cause significant brain injury. So if somebody gets a kind of dazed from a blow to the head, or they’re making a tackle, or they fall and hit their head- they usually need to be removed from the game for at least period of time. Have some type of trainer or medical professional do a quick neurological check on them. And if there’s any symptoms at all, they’re typically going to be held out of the game to reduce the chances or avoid getting what we call Second Impact Syndrome, where it’s even a relatively minor head injury, if it’s followed in a short period of time by a second head injury , it can result in a very severe head injury.”
Doctor Beck says athletes should tackle with their shoulder rather than their head to avoid brain injuries. The doctor encourages players and their families, as well as coaching staff, to educate themselves about head injuries. If you do get a hit to the head, you should go to a doctor to be sure that it’s nothing severe.