Student athletes are risking their health by not reporting concussions
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Concussions are not just for grown men playing professional sports anymore. A new study shows more girls than boys are suffering from concussions, and many athletes are dangerously choosing to not report them.
There's a good chance high school athletes would deny getting a concussion at practice or in a game. They don't want to let the coach or the team down and they love the game. But it's that culture of not reporting an injury that can have devastating effects down the road.
"I was nauseous. I was dizzy. My head hurt a lot," said 11th grade soccer player Kearstyn Stephens. Stephens knows what it's like to get a concussion not just once, but twice.
"I guess she kneed me in the face. That's what everyone said happened," she said.
But the first time she had a concussion guess what happened?
"I remember when I first got my concussion I don't think if anybody wasn't around I probably wouldn't have said anything. I'm one of those kids that likes to play," Stephens said.
That's exactly the problem and also why the numbers of student athletes who have had concussions are probably greater than we even realize.
"All kinds of things can happen to our brain when it's injured like that," said Dr. Richard Smith, M.D.
Dr. Smith is the medical director for Mercy's Neuroscience Institute. He knows how damaging even minor concussions can be.
"A disorientation, a fogginess of thinking, can't remember. They might not remember the accident," said Dr. Smith.
Those are the short term effects, but it's the long term effects that we still don't fully know.
"Research about youth concussions is very limited," said Dr. Neha Raukar. Raukar is the author of a study about youth concussions just released by the Institute of Medicine.
"Women seem to have more severe symptoms and seem to have more concussions," Raukar said.
Besides that, the study found this culture of not reporting concussions, no matter what the gender, is extremely disturbing. Students need to know that's not okay.
"Parents need to be better educated on concussions, teachers need to be better educated, coaches need to be educated and athletes need to be educated," said Raukar.
Take it from a high school athlete who knows. Stephens says students must speak up about their head injuries.
"I think that it's important for kids, especially younger kids, if they get hurt with their head that they need to tell someone. Because I know what could happen now," Stephens said.