Prevent brain injuries this football season and beyond

The effects of concussions have been getting a lot of press as reports of serious brain injuries in retired football players continue to pile up. Leagues from Pop Warner to the NFL have increased the quality of safety procedures in place for treating concussions. However, many signs are still being overlooked or ignored, which can prove to be a fatal mistake.

According to The Centers for Disease Control, sports concussions have reached an epidemic level – an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million occur in the United States every year.

While studies have shown that football players are the athletes most at risk, concussions can be caused by any fall or blow to the head, in a contact sport such as hockey or soccer; a car accident; while biking, skiing, or snowboarding; or in other situations. Children also have an increased risk because they are more prone to accidents.

Regardless of the cause, the best course of action after any head injury is to seek medical attention immediately. Watch for the following symptoms, both immediately after the injury and throughout the next week.

    •  Confusion, nausea, or vomiting
    •  Headaches, dizziness, and/or nausea
    •  Blurred vision or sensitivity to light
    •  Memory loss or trouble concentrating
    •  Slurred speech
    •  Continued ringing in the ears
    •  Changes in sleep habits
    •  Unusual behavior or changes in mood

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