When the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1972 last year, All-Star center Marc Savard had to watch from the sidelines. In 2010, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke gave Savard a concussion with a blindside hit to his head. He missed the rest of the season, and when he tried to return last year, he suffered another concussion. Savard hasn't played since, and may never take the ice again.
With increased awareness of the severity of concussions in recent years, the NHL and other professional sports leagues have been working to make their games safer. However, there have been many reports about the lack of action taken by youth and high school athletic associations, where the number of concussions are on the rise, especially in sports like soccer, hockey and lacrosse.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that 13.2 percent of the 14,635 high-school sports injuries reported between 2008 and 2010 were concussions, which was almost twice as many as previous reports showed, according to a study published in January by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
What's most alarming about the data this study revealed is that 25 percent of these athletes returned to practice within one day, and 2 percent remained playing or practicing the same day.
"Any time there is a suspected concussion, it has to be automatic that the athlete is removed from competition or practice and is not returned until he or she is symptom-free at rest, have passed a baseline test and also have passed a test indicating the athlete is symptom-free after exertion," Anthony Kontos of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Sports Medicine Concussion Program told the news source.
Coaches, parents and athletes need to be very careful when dealing with concussions and be sure they get a professional medical evaluation if they think an athlete has a concussion . The most common symptoms to look for in an athlete that may have suffered a concussion are headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating. All teams should be prepared with a first aid plan when they suspect an athlete may have a concussion.
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