Health Concerns for Players Young or Old. Paid or Learning. Parents of every player no matter what the age will have a couple of really important issues to focus on.. Please keep your opinions between you and the adults – not in front of your kids. You can read my opinion in my blog.
Keeping your child safe while playing football.
As a mother I had two things I worried about when my son played football.
Concussions and Heat Stroke
First was a concussion. There are many websites that describe a concussion – what to look for and what to do next. The following is a gathering of information from various sources. I am only listing the symptoms that might be overlooked at the actual game and/or hours afterward. I am retired from being an educator for 32 years. The only reason I mention this now is to get your attention. Parents! Assume your son/daughter is being honest if they complain about any of these symptoms. Please have your child checked out before allowing them to come back to school. Our schools share trained nurses so there is a good chance that a licensed school nurse is not available to assist your child – other school personnel will be prepared for CPR and mild wound care but not for this, not for a concussion especially when the teacher is not told ahead of time that the child took a hit in the head (fell, bumped or however it happens).
I was the principal of a very small (12 students) at-risk school. One of the boys was a gifted athlete. One day he came to class and was slurring his words, dropping to sleep, complaining of his head hurting and was unable to connect with the lesson.” I immediately called the district nurse who hurried over After learning that he played a football game the previous night we knew that he needed to be seen by a doctor. Calling the parents was always an adventure. In this case the parents complained telling us that he was faking it. I looked at his attendance record and saw only one absence the previous year and none to that date in the current school year.
I made my decision as clearly as I possibly could. “Take your son to a doctor and get an all clear note from the doctor before bringing him back to school.” I wish I could tell you that this disregard for a child’s health was unusual but it happens all the time. Most of the time when a parent complains about taking their child to the doctor it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with leaving work. In this case we made the right call and he ended up with a four day stay in the hospital because the doctor wanted him being observed.
Take it seriously if you see these symptoms and with a brain injury you should always take your child seriously and let a doctor see him.
If a child is participating in a contact sport (soccer is included in this definition) the parent needs to know the basic signs of a concussion.
- After the “hit” did your child seem confused? Shaking his/her head side to side as if to clear the vision?
- Can he/she talk to you and stay on topic? Do they seem to wander in and out of the conversation?
- They may or may not vomit, have a headache, be “wonky” and unstable as they walk, are their ears hurting? Does the light bother them? (Some of the same symptoms of having a migraine)
Heat Stroke – drink water right away and keep drinking water!
In our town, like so many other towns, the younger (Freshman) football teams are given either the earliest practice time or the hottest time. In my son’s case it was the later time because of the excessive heat. Our daughter told her dad that, “It is like living on the sun.” and indeed it can feel that way.
We requested that the practice be held in the shade and without the full uniform on days that hit over 100 degrees. We were told, “Oh you guys are making your son be weak, it will make a man out of him to practice in the heat.” We made a huge effort to provide ice water for all of the 90 kids practicing between 3:00-5:00 every day. We look at a 100 degree day as ‘cool’ in comparison to the 110+ days we often see in August. I can only imagine how it felt to put on all those layers and then the helmet. Most of the kids tried to get helmets that were larger than they needed just to have air flow – that put their heads at risk, but kids simply don’t think of that.
Sometimes moms are actually right and must sometimes embarrass their grown boys to teach them to take care of some basic signs of trouble.
Heat Stroke can result in death – You can’t pretend to have heat stroke because with heat stroke your body stops sweating. The more you sweat the better your cooling off system works. Without cooling off your body temperature can reach as high as 105. I can remember a few times in my life after a day at the lake in 120 degree weather with a nice sunburn – that I vomited, still thinking it was the sunburn. As a mother I was more aware of these dangers. Your child can have brain damage from heat stroke. One of my friends lost all of her hair and when it grew back it was suddenly curly. Her eyelashes never grew back.
Heat Stoke Can Be A Killer
Watch for these signs!
- Red Skin and temperature of 105 degrees
- Fainting or Dizziness – After being in the sun you become dizzy and some people actually faint. Call or see a doctor but the best thing you can do is get into an air controlled environment and drink lots and lots of water – stay away from the sun!
- Are you exhausted? More than after a normal day playing in the yard? Many people experience heat exhaustion without it becoming heat stroke. The best way to tell the difference is to ask yourself how many of these extra symptoms you have.
- Vomiting or simple nausea? Vomiting is a clear symptom that the heat exhaustion has progressed to heat stroke!!! Stop working or playing in the heat, drink water and see the doctor immediately!
I watched as dozens of high school boys vomited during the football practice. My son and his friends simply did not eat anything before practice. My son hated me being so concerned – a bit of a hover mother I suppose. I pushed water on every one of those boys who were sick because water would calm their tummies and the coach would not give anybody a break. He would say things like, “We will do up-downs until someone pukes.” A very ignorant man – but he himself had played for two seasons on an NFL team so he felt that this conditioning was normal. Hmm
- Heart racing or hurting? Get to the doctor right now!
- Confusion – Wonkey – Dizzy – having a hard time thinking? Get him to the doctor!
- Having a seizure! Do I need to say it? To the Doctor or Emergency Room
- Not Sweating – This is a symptom that people sometimes ignore. If your body is sweating it is working hard to cool off. If your body should be sweating and it is not then you are probably headed for a heat stroke.
- Having a headache along with only one of the previous mentioned symptoms.
Maybe I should have written this list the other way around. I saw a lot of football players with some of the symptoms mentioned above. Severe heat and physical exercise will affect people in different ways. One boy can do all of the exercise in the heat of the day and be fine while others can fall into dangerous heat stroke very quickly. It is not mean that your child is a “pussy” for his physical situation – you do not choose or decide that you have heat stroke. Your body is simply your body. My best friend fell into severe heat stroke after two miles on a bicycle. Trust me, you will know it if you see someone falling into a heat stroke. There is no mistaking the severity of the situation.