Tag Archives: concussion

Introducing Concussions

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This past 2011 season, US Lacrosse stepped up concussion awareness by making educational material and tightening up rules on hits to the head. Across all youth sports, we have come a long way from the days of sending a kid back into the game after “getting their bell rung.” Since Atlanta Youth Lacrosse operates under US Lacrosse youth rules it is important that we offer our members the information that US Lacrosse provides on concussions.

This week each post will focus on concussions in lacrosse, and actions that leagues across the country can use if a player shows concussive symptoms. I will clarify that these are not directions by me about how to handle concussions. I am relaying this information from far smarter people than me.

The following video from US Lacrosse in this post covers the following:

  • What is a concussion?
  • Is every concussion alike?
  • What symptoms occur when concussed?
  • What should you do if you have a concussion?
  • How can I recognize symptoms?
  • How are concussed players evaluated medically?

Atlanta Youth Lacrosse definitely subscribes to the video’s mantra of: if in doubt – sit them out. Stay tuned to the blog this week for further analyses of concussions. Plus, if we have any M.D. readers out there who would like to lend their expertise, feel free to comment below.

Cheers,
Gordon

Just a Flesh Wound

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If you never watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail you will not understand 1/4 of Coach Lou’s jokes. One of the most memorable scenes is when the King meets the Black Knight on a small bridge. The Black Knight denies passage without a fight and the two men enter into combat. The King hacks off each of the Black Knight’s limbs until he is reduced to a stump on the ground. The classic line of the film is “it’s just a flesh wound!” That term quickly became a classic phrase to say whenever a person ignores a serious injury.

I bring this up because one of our players was hit in a game over the weekend. He appeared to be in good shape with no ill effects after the hit. Unfortunately, he began suffering some symptoms of a concussion during the drive home. His parents were especially attentive of his behavior and quickly took him to the local emergency room. From their report, the doctor decided the player had a stress reaction, not a concussion, resulting from the hard hit.

Now, I know his parents were just being responsible parents, but I must commend them for being aware of their son’s peculiar behavior following the game. While we do not have certified athletic trainers at our fields, our staff follows a common sense approach to serious injuries. If we do not feel comfortable about a player’s injury we find the parents. If we cannot find the parents we get an ambulance down ASAP.

While the AYL staff and officials do their best to ensure player safety there will always be the potential for injury in a lacrosse game. I hope all of our parents and players will practice constant vigilance if a teammate goes to the bench after a hit. If you feel something is amiss please get the attention of the AYL staff quickly.

To end on a more humorous note, here is the famous scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Parents I will warn you that this clip has some adult phrases. I would suggest viewing the clip before your players if you have not seen this movie before. You may make your own judgement as to it’s appropriateness:

Featured Image Credit – www.starsandpopcorn.com

Cheers, Gordon

Mouthguard. Get a Good One

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I never understood how players do not get that the mouthguard is one of the most importance pieces of equipment they wear. I constantly see players forgetting to put their mouthguard in. They leave it dangling off their facemask, which is about as useful as not wearing your seatbelt.

I think the biggest problem is that players and parents just do not see the mouthguard as terribly important. So a player gets a four dollar mouthguard from a sports outlet store, never gets it properly fitted and does not like to wear it because it is uncomfortable. I do not want players to find excuses for not wearing a mouthguard so I’ve put together some information that I hope will open some eyes to the benefits of getting a well fitted mouthguard.

The following information is provided by the Florida Dental Association:

  • In 1962, 50 percent of injuries among students participating in football programs in Florida were oral facial. At that time, mouthguard and facemask use became mandatory. It is estimated that this enforced protection prevents more than 200,000 injuries among football players each year.
  • Athletes participating in sports not requiring this protection are 60 times more likely to suffer hard-tissue trauma to the oral-facial area. Other common injuries, including concussion, dental trauma and TMJ, also could be significantly reduced by properly fitting mouthguards.
  • One third of male and one fourth of female students will suffer a dental injury before finishing high school. An Illinois hospital stated only one in every 10 such injuries resulted from collision sports (football, hockey, boxing) where the risk of injury is obvious and protective gear is required.

It is clear that mouthguards provide critical protection for the teeth and jaw but how do they protect against concussions or lesson the impact of hard hits? Sportsdentistry.com provides some insight into this question:

Face and Skull

Face and Skull impact

  • Dr. Karen Johnston, a prominent Canadian concussion researcher, noted that: “The force required to concuss a fixed head is almost twice that required to concuss a mobile head”.
  • By activating additional head and neck muscles at the time of impact this arc of rotation might be decreased, leading to less harmful movement of the brain inside the skull.

Research suggests that the mouthguard clenches the jaw towards the skull creating a more solid structure. You can try this yourself. Open your mouth wide and tap up on your jaw with your fist. Even a light tap will snap your jaw up and your head will move backwards. Now clench your teeth together as if you had a mouthpiece in and repeat the tap. Your head still moves backwards but there is considerably less movement. This is the “knockout punch” effect and why boxers aim for the jaw. A loose jaw will rock back into the bottom of the skull and can easily render a person unconscious.

Here is the catch. With all of the benefits of mouthguards they will not be effective if they are not quality made and not properly fitted. Players will stick half the mouthpiece out of their mouth during an entire game because it is uncomfortable and they cannot speak properly with it in. The reason it is uncomfortable is because it is not properly fitted. I played with a fitted mouthguard through junior and senior year. It was so well fitted to my teeth that I could speak easily and it never fell out. That is the kind of mouthpiece a player should be wearing to get all of the benefits that a good mouthpiece provides.

I found OPRO mouthguards my junior year and I highly recommend them for any JV or High School player who wants a quality mouthguard that will last for the entire season. If a fitted mouthguard is out of your price range then head to a sports store and get a mouthguard that you can fit yourself by heating it in hot water. You want it to stick to your teeth and it should feel comfortable.

I’m wrapping up this post with a special note to parents. Would you rather spend $20-$50 dollars on a quality, fitted mouthguard or would you like to spend $1,000 dollars on dental bills after Junior chips his four front teeth during a semifinal game?

Cheers,
Gordon