Local doctor addresses concussion risks - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Local doctor addresses concussion risks

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Now that kids have gone back to school, this means they are back to sports as well.

From soccer to football, there are risks that come along with them playing sports.

Even though no one wants to think about their kid getting hurt, the reality is the risk is there and some do get hurt.

The Grand Strand alone saw 35 concussions last year from school-aged children who sustained sport-related injuries.

"In the age group, 5-14, the risk of concussion is one out of of every 30 kids will develop a concussion, each year in each sport,” Dr. Joseph Cheatle with Grand Strand Spine and Neuro Care said.

According to Dr. Cheatle, concussions are much more common than we may think and when it comes to these mild brain injuries, it's crucial the athlete heals before returning to play.

Dr. Cheatle says, a second concussion can be quite devastating.  It can lead to long term side effects, like headaches, nausea, or blurry vision, and can impact attention span, in school.

Multiple concussions can also lead to more severe issues. One is punch-drunk syndrome which he described as having symptoms of early dementia.

"Encourage reporting of concussions,” Dr. Cheatle said. “A lot of kids want to stay out on the football field so they have to be encouraged to tell parents and coaches that they did have a concussion."

Studies have found that more than half of high school athletes failed to report concussions they had sustained while playing football. 

Signs and Symptoms

There are many signs you can look out for, when it comes to figuring out if your child experienced a concussion. Those include, headaches, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, double vision, and blurry vision. Subtle signs include mood changes, imbalance, or being bothered by noise.

If you recognize these symptoms, you should immediately go to a doctor.

Returning to play

In order for your athlete to return to their sport, Dr. Cheatle recommends following the "Five step rule, return to play,” a slow step process, to increase activity.

First, you need to focus on getting back to academics. This includes, letting teachers know, the student may have difficulty with concentration, and may need extra help.

Then, slowly increase activities starting with light, then moderate activity, returning to practice, and when ready, getting back into the game.

If the athlete re-develops symptoms, they should drop back a step until they're ready, according to Dr. Cheatle.

South Carolina High School Football Rules

Since the risk of concussion is greater when practicing poor technique, South Carolina football leaders, have changed the rules.

This year in high school football, in the state, the “Eight-Quarter Rule” is now banned. This means, players can no longer play eight quarters in a week, but only four.

The less time on the field, the less likely a player can get hurt, hopefully cutting down the risk of injuries.

The CDC has more tips on concussions available for parents, coaches and athletes here.

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