Many parents want to know how to prevent head injuries, such as whether it's worth investing in expensive helmets marketed as "concussion-prevention systems."
"There is no 'concussion-proof' helmet," Grady said. "Helmets are great at preventing skull fractures. They help when your head hits the ground. But neck muscles probably do more to prevent concussions. If you see a hit coming and brace for it, you may be able to walk away without any concussion. But if you get an upward injury to your chin it could cause violent shaking -- and concussion is a shaking injury."
Maugans recommends "good play: not spearing, not head-butting. Following rules of play, physical conditioning, good nutrition, good hydration. People who are dehydrated are already at risk of low cerebral blood flow."
"At games, there's often an EMT or trainer on the sidelines," Meehan said. "If your child is unconscious, sleepy, confused, vomiting -- get them to the ER."
Concussion warning signs include "headache, nausea, the kid is bothered by loud noises or bright lights," Grady said. "More irritability, subtle changes in personality. All cylinders don't seem to be firing."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on concussion in sports.
SOURCES: Todd Maugans, M.D., assistant professor, University of Cincinnati, pediatric neurosurgeon at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Matt Grady, M.D., pediatric sports medicine specialist, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; William Meehan, M.D., director, Sports Concussion Clinic at C
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