Chris Coyne was used to getting pummeled on the football field—he thought that taking a beating was just part of the game. He refused to be sidelined by a few nasty bumps. But after sustaining numerous head injuries, the Yale university student found himself unable to take notes in class or remember where he was going. Like lots of young sports fanatics, Chris wasn’t happy to sit on the bench: he just wanted to get back in the game as soon as possible. More than 50% of sports concussions go unreported, partially because young athletes don’t want to pass up playing time. Chris continued to play with his concussion, and his brain hadn’t recovered from all the times it had slammed against his skull. Ultimately, he had to give up football for good. “I wish I knew then what I know now about concussions and injuries,” he says. “If I did, I would still be playing.”
Experts estimate that there are between 1.6 and 3 million sports-related concussions among children and adults every year. Even if your kid’s not an athlete, you should still make sure you can recognize the symptoms of a concussion. Falls are the main cause of brain injuries in kids under age 10; your tot’s tumble could be more serious than you think. Whenever your kid bangs his head, watch out for these red-flag symptoms: headache, fatigue, balance problems, vomiting, drowsiness, memory and concentration issues, irritability and sadness, and sleep disturbances. If you suspect that your child has a concussion, get her checked out by a doc right away. Though many of these injuries are easily treated with rest, others require surgery to reduce swelling and decrease the risk of long-term damage.
Now, Chris works to raise awareness about concussions, and remind young players how important it is to let themselves rest and recover following an injury.
Check out this video about Chris’s story, which was produced by Choices, a Scholastic magazine for students.
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