As high school student-athletes begin the academic year and participate in double-day sports practices statewide, the California Interscholastic Federation is drawing attention to the health risks associated with concussions, heat stroke and dehydration.
As a result, the CIF is launching an ongoing campaign by distributing a "Ten Tips "card to help parents easily identify potential life threatening injuries. The card also suggests precautionary measures that can prevent thousands of injuries.
Additionally, the CIF will host two town hall meetings -- one in Southern California and another in Northern California to educate parents statewide. Professional athletes, students, coaches and teachers will be on site to present the "Ten Tips" and answer questions.
"Each year, somewhere between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the United States," said Marie M. Ishida, CIF State executive director. "Concussions can have serious, long-term health effects with a variety of symptoms such as headache, nausea, fatigue, confusion, memory problems and more. We need to raise awareness around the seriousness of what are often dismissed as minor injuries, which is why we hope the Ten Tips card and upcoming town hall meetings will be helpful and informative to our athletes and their families."
A high school student-athlete who sustains a concussion is three times more likely to sustain another. Moreover, he or she may lack the proper diagnosis and management of a concussion, which can result in more serious long-term consequences, or risk of coma or death. These effects are cumulative in athletes who return to play prior to complete recovery.
"We want to make sure that if someone suspects their child has a concussion, they know to seek medical attention right away" stated Dr. Tony Strickland of the Sports Concussion Institute in Los Angeles and a partner in the CIF Town Hall meetings. "It's equally as important to make sure that the athlete is fully recovered before they return to play because another blow to the head before it has completely healed from the first injury can have catastrophic consequences. "
September is often the hottest time of the year in some California regions. That's why it is not only important to be aware of the negative effects and risks associated with concussions, but also with those attached to heat related illnesses.
"Student-athletes need to know that they should arrive at practice well hydrated -- which means that parents and guardians need to make sure that their kids are drinking plenty of water and fluids even before practice ," according to Dr. Keith Feder of the West Coast Sports Medicine Foundation which serves 35 high schools in southern California. "Drinking plenty of fluids should occur at practice- every ten to fifteen minutes, and also at home before and after practice. What may seem like just dizziness, drowsiness or a rapid heart beat could actually be serious heat illness and needs to be addressed by a medical professional immediately."