Football is a full contact sport. No getting around it... but lots of other sports like soccer, basketball, and volleyball also carry the risk of head injuries, and it's what happens afterward that's most important.
“The new guidelines are still a work in progress. They're the best knowledge that we have right now but we really don't know how concussions are going to affect our kids in the long run,” said Dr. Jami Adams, Pediatrician at Abilene Regional Medical Center.
Concussions are nothing to take lightly and the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, recently changing protocol for head injuries: players with concussions have to wait at least a full week before playing again, and they now believe it takes up to three full weeks for a concussion to heal.
“It can even take longer than that; some kids can have headaches and problems with focusing even a year after they've had a concussion,”said Dr. Adams.
This isn't news to Abilene High Head Coach, Steve Warren.
“We have a protocol we go to, called the concussion protocol. The great thing about it is it takes the decision making process out of the coaches hands and puts it into the hands of medical people,” said Coach Warren.
He told us, no matter what game is on the line, the player’s health is more important.
“It's not like it used to be. You know, you hold up two fingers and say ‘how many am I holding up?’ We don't do that anymore. Safety first and we'll go from there,” said Warren.
“In the past, we would use loss of consciousness as our guide. But only about 10 % of the kids who have concussions actually have loss of consciousness. So that's a much larger group of kids that are having these head injuries and it's probably affecting their school work too.
Something Coach Warren says is not worth risking.
“I don't want any kid to go out there and have a long term effect of having a concussion and play for us, that's just something we'll never do," said Warren.
Here are the symptoms to look out for if you think your child has a concussion: if they feel fuzzy or unfocused, have difficulty remembering things or paying attention, or if they complain of a headache.
Dr. Adams says if an athlete has a concussion and gets another head injury in a short time span it can greatly intensify their symptoms and worse, it could lead to brain swelling which can be fatal.
She also says many players are afraid to speak up because they don't want to let their team or coaches down. Parents are urged to talk to their kids about how serious concussions are and how they can affect their future and long term mental health.