For many years, the prevalence and dangers of concussions have taken center stage in sports-related dialogue. The epidemic exists across a range of athletics and affects players of all ages, yet, even with increased awareness, little has been done to effectively reduce its occurrence. In fact, a new study published by FAIR Health unveiled a 500 percent rise in concussion diagnoses for people under the age of 22 from 2010 to 2014.
This alarming increase may be a result of a “culture of resistance” present in youth athletics that can cause a concussion to go undetected. Players may lie about their injuries in order to remain in the game, or parents and coaches may not take complaints seriously, causing players to return to their sport before recovering and
putting them at risk of further injury. Another issue is that many young players do not understand concussions well enough to speak to their injuries. Unlike an injury that manifests externally, the effects of a concussion are not always apparent. In order to effectively combat the presence of concussion in youth sports, parents,
players and coaches must be aware and accepting of the signs.
The first step in recognizing a concussion is understanding how they occur. Normally, the brain sits in the center of the skull, suspended in cerebral spinal fluid that acts as a shock absorber for minor impacts. When a more forceful impact takes place, the brain may rapidly collide against the skull and damage delicate neural pathways, leading to neurological disturbances.
A person suffering from a concussion may immediately lose consciousness, but this does not always occur and is not the only indication of brain injury. Short-term effects of concussion can include headache, vertigo, depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate, slow reaction time and a number of other physical, emotional and cognitive abnormalities. These effects may appear immediately or weeks after the blow occurs, and duration can vary. In serious or repeated cases, an individual may suffer long-term consequences, including long-term memory loss, emotional distress, slowing of some types of movements, and chronic depression with increased possibility of suicide.
While much research has been done on the effects of concussions, little has been done on the effects of concussions on a developing brain. However, some studies have shown that when compared to collegiate and professional athletes, younger athletes tend to experience these symptoms with greater severity and take longer to recover. Thus, as prevention cannot be guaranteed, there is an imperative need to reduce the risk of concussions in youth sports.
Unequal Technologies has developed several products, including protective headgear and supplemental helmet padding, that help reduce the risk of injury. Unequal Technology is well on its way to becoming a standard in football, soccer, and other high-impact sports. Made from military-grade composites, this ultra-light, ultra-thin athletic gear works differently than virtually every other traditional foam and plastic of equal weight and thickness on the market by absorbing, dispersing and dissipating energy from an impact away from the body. Furthermore, it allows for greater protection without compromising mobility, so athletes can play more at their peak level.
Teaching parents, coaches and players how to better recognize symptoms, while raising awareness of Unequal’s protective technology can help players spend more time in the game and less time on the sidelines.