Doctors Warn of Concussions In Young Athletes

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COLUMBIA - In 2011, The Interscholastic Youth Sports Brain Injury Prevention Act required student athletes suspected of having a concussion or brain injury to stop playing the sport immediately.  In order to return to play, a written permission from a medical professional is required. However, most players and parents are not aware of the symptoms or the effects of concussions. MU Sports Medicine Specialist Doctor Aaron Gray says concussions are affecting our youth football and sports players more and more.  "A concussion is a traumatic or mild traumatic brain injury that occurs whenever there's a force transmitted through the body or directly to the head, and what usually happens is the brain is in a fluid filled sac inside the skull and the brain crashes around inside the skull."

Dr. Gray sees patients that suffer concussions from all over central Missouri.  Together Dr. Gray and Children's Hospital Prevention and Outreach Coordinator Michele Imes are helping to spread awareness about concussions.  Dr. Gray and Imes work together to educate coaches, parents and players about the serious effects of returning to a sport too soon after suffering a concussion. Imes says, "It actually is a little easier to get a concussion at an earlier age, due to our muscle structure and what our bodies can actually handle with impact." Dr. Gray and Imes work with Columbia Youth Football to target ages from about six to fourteen year olds.  At the last prevention clinic, over 90 head coaches attended to learn about the symptoms and effects of concussions.

Dr. Gray says some warning signs of a player suffering a concussion can include appearing dazed or stunned, confusion about position, plays or score, headache, nausea or vomiting, clumsiness, poor balance, dizziness and blurry or double vision.