My six-year old son recently started playing football for our local township, Northampton, Bucks County.  When he received his helmet he was given an additional item to place around the helmet. It was a black pad and frankly when he put it on, I giggled because he looked like a bobble head doll.  As a first time football mom, I didn’t know what this black pad was, but I later learned that the pad is a concussion pad, designed to reduce the risk of concussions. I commend Northampton and all other leagues that provide concussion pads for their efforts to reduce brain injuries.
 
As it turns out, brain injuries in youth sports have reached epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,000,000 sports and recreations related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States each year. What people also don’t know is that a concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury. 
 
Studies show that 42 percent of coaches believe that concussions occur only when an athlete loses consciousness. This is not correct, as a brain injury can occur even without losing consciousness. Therefore, if an athlete is showing signs of a concussion such as headaches, blurry vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, sleep disturbance or irritability, the coach and league should prevent the athlete from returning to play until the brain has healed and medical attention is sought.   
 
It is critical that we take the necessary steps in order to prevent these devastating injuries from occurring, such as utilizing concussion pads and educating leagues and coaches on the ways to prevent brain injuries. 
 
Carin O’Donnell is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. O’Donnell.