Because football is the sport with the highest number of concussions , and because allowing a player who has experienced concussion signs or symptoms  to return to the field before those symptoms have fully cleared puts him at risk of catastrophic injury or even death from second impact syndrome , it is critically important that a concussion education and safety meeting of coaches, parents and players be held before every season.
But even if the season is well underway, as is the case now, it is never too late to hold such a meeting.
Ideally, the meeting should include presentations by:
1. Medical doctors familiar with the grading and evaluation of concussions  and return to play guidelines  to educate parents on the important role they play in their child's recovery from a suspected concussion, especially in terms of:
2. Former athletes who can share personal stories about the consequences of continuing to play with concussion symptoms and/or the long-term health consequences of multiple concussions , such as reoccurring headaches, depression,  and concentration and memory problems.
3. Parents of concussed athletes who can emphasize how critical it is that, in making the all-important return-to-play decision, parents put a child's long term future and well-being above short-term athletic success by continually evaluating, along with their child if she is old enough to participate in the decision-making process, whether the risk of long-term injury, such as chronic major depression  or early onset of Alzheimer's down the road, may make ending a career the best choice.
4. Coaches. While there are many football coaches who take concussions very seriously, there are still far too many in this country who:
ostracize players who report experiencing post-concussion signs and symptoms ,
challenge a player's toughness or, especially in the case of boys, their very masculinity for not shaking off concussion symptoms;
give doctors and athletic trainers a hard time if they refuse to let a player with concussion symptoms go back into the game,
take away a child's position in the starting lineup or reduce their playing time simply because they and their parents decided, for safety's sake, that the child should not to rush back to the field because the symptoms had not yet cleared or have recurred with exercise;
in extreme cases have even had a star player suffering symptoms don another player's jersey to get back into a game; and/or
Coaches need to be part of the concussion solution, not the problem. This means that a coach needs to:
Reassure athletes that they will not jeopardize their position as a starter or place on the team if they self-report, that he will not question their toughness, call them "wimps" or "sissies," or ostracize them;
Inform players that deliberate hits to another player's head or leading with their helmet in tackling will subject them to disiciplinary action; and
Advise athletes that they will be considered in violation of team rules, subjecting them to possible discipline from game suspensions up to and including disqualification for the season if found to have impeded appropriate evaluation and management of his own concussion by:
failing to report or underreport symptoms (theirs or a fellow player's);
intentionally underperforming on baseline neuropsychological tests in order to maximize chances of being cleared to play while still experiencing symptoms; or
Taking these kinds of safety precautions will undoubtedly meet resistance from those concerned more about winning than about the safety of children, but parents and every other stakeholder in youth sports owe them nothing less
Concussion education is critically important
Regardless of who the program calls to make presentations at the meeting, the goal should be to provide parents and athletes with the all-important information they need to decide when it is safe to return to play, whether it be the next game, next season or not at all.
To reinforce the message of the meeting, parents should be furnished with information to take home, such as articles from this website or obtained from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as part of its "Heads Up" kit  (which contains a good video on concussions that be a substitute for live presentations, along with fact sheets for parents, athletes, and coaches).
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