AHS Weekly Wellness Tip: Youth head injuries during sport and recreation

According to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, sport-related injury is the leading cause of emergency department visits in Alberta among teens aged 15-19 years.

Concussion is a common sport related injury that often occurs during hockey, football, skiing and snowboarding. A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the brain suddenly shifts inside the skull and knocks against the skull’s surface. It may be caused by a direct or indirect hit to the head or body.

After suffering a concussion, a person may experience many different symptoms. These could include, headache, ringing in the ears, nausea and/or vomiting, disorientation, emotional and personality changes, dizziness, poor balance and/or coordination, poor concentration, light sensitivity, irritability, fatigue and sleep complications.

In order to reduce the risk of a concussion, encourage your teen to look first when engaging in a risky activity, such as hockey. Preparation, good sportsmanship and fair play all help to reduce the risk of injury, including concussion.

Teens should also wear the gear, such as a helmet that fits correctly and is secured on the head throughout the sport. Always replace your child’s helmet after impact or as instructed by the manufacturer. In high impact sports such as hockey, teens should wear a face and mouth guard. To manage a concussion, encourage your teen to seek help from a coach, teacher or parent immediately after an injury has occurred. Consult a physician immediately after being notified of an injury in order to determine if a concussion has occurred. Finally, ensure that your teen does not return to activity or play until it has been approved by their doctor.

Risk is a part of life, and while not all risks can be eliminated, most can be managed. Taking smart risk means recognizing the risks of an activity and choosing to manage risk to prevent injuries. For more information on smart risk visit: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/4880.asp

For more information on concussions go to www.myhealth.alberta.ca.