The worst case scenario in football, our son was tackled and sustained a concussion. My husband and I watched it happen to our fourth grade son. We saw him slammed into as the other player speared him from the side in an illegal hit leading with his helmet. Our son crumpled to the ground and we could hear him crying from the sidelines. As he sat on the sidelines and watched his team continue the fight without him, he made a choice to go back into the game. A hard game to watch as the parents of the other team had been shouting at their kids quite aggressively to get our kids, sadly they were encouraging, no they were demanding a win no matter how they got it.
Our son told no one he had a headache and the coach said they needed him, so instead of speaking up about the headache, he ignored it and went back into the game. After the game, he admitted he had a headache that started immediately after the hit, and he went back into the game knowing this.
He suffered from a headache the rest of the evening and when he woke up the next morning, he still had a headache. The pediatrician told us to make an appointment for the concussion clinic. Even though he was resting, we noticed other signs of the concussion begin to pop up. He had trouble sleeping and he was clumsy and careless. He would get up and suddenly fall down, making a joke out of it. He was irritable and his headache lasted over twenty-four hours. Our denial crushed, he had signs of a concussion.
Diagnosis and Treatment
We went into the concussion clinic, they had him take a computerized test. They told us he would have to take it several times as part of his assessment to determine his level of healing as the next few weeks went by.
The doctor also felt his balance was affected and prescribed physical therapy to help regain balance. The plan was for six weeks of physical therapy, eye and balancing exercises to be done daily at home, no gym class or physical activity other than walking, and a 50% reduction in homework. The doctor told us that a reduction in his time spent thinking and working on schoolwork would actually help heal his brain. The doctor had told us researchers began to realize kids recovered faster in the summer when they aren’t in school, so a reduction in homework is part of the healing plan.
He was bored in his recovery, forced to be inactive. He felt it was unfair he had been targeted as a running back for that illegal hit, which made him miss the playoff games. What right did that kid have to play dirty and break the rules to hurt him. The other coach didn’t stop him; he allowed this player to hurt several of our players unchecked. We felt the referees should have pulled him from the game, but they didn’t until he had seriously hurt four of our players. At this point, it was too late as the damage had been done.
As a parent, it is hard to watch other parents disregard another child’s health just for a win. Our league scolded that coach and his league for allowing it to happen. Having it on video was quite helpful in getting the point across. The offender did feel bad about his illegal hit and I’m told he even cried about it, but our child was hurt and his brain had been damaged. No one could undo that. We just had to wait until he healed, not knowing how long it would take for him to heal. He healed fast, speeding past all the necessary therapy goals in half the expected time.
My son still wanted to play football and so we had to figure out what to do. We knew he was more susceptible to injury and we also knew that injuries, including concussions, can and do happen in all sports, even in non-sport situations like simple play time or accidents. We found him the best helmet we could find so he could continue to play football. The helmet was designed by a person who makes race car driver helmets. It is an SG Helmet designed for football players.
He loves football and has not suffered a concussion recurrence and though it makes us nervous, we know he loves the game so we allow him to play given that he has the new helmet. We know he is still at risk as no helmet can guarantee concussion prevention. It comes down to teaching the players to play fair and play in ways that don’t increase chances of permanent damage to another player. It comes down to what we as adults, parents, and coaches teach the kids about how to play fair.
I did not receive any compensation for including a link to SG helmets. I simply like their product.