Head injuries can take longer to heal, especially for young athletes

Injuries are, for the most part, an accepted consequence of participating in youth sports. Beginning as early as preschool, kids are encouraged to participate in sports as a good way to help them learn about socialization, competition, and fitness.

Insider Louisville LogoBroken bones almost always heal. So do sprains and bruises. But parents, coaches, and kids are learning too often that bumps on the head must be taken more seriously. Brain injuries, including concussions, can have long-lasting effects that make it difficult to concentrate, focus, and remember important details.

That was the case for soccer goalie Ruby Fitzer, who had to quit playing the game she loved after suffering her fourth concussion. But she, and her parents, knew they had to make that difficult decision because they realized that the cumulative effect of the concussions could eventually lead to long-term damage.

“I loved playing soccer and I miss it all the time,” she said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “I’ve had too many head injuries, and the risks of playing outweigh the benefits.”

Eddie Reynolds, executive director of the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky (BIAK), said the brain must be allowed to heal after an injury. He said a concussion is like a short in the brain’s wiring, and it needs to rest both physically and cognitively to heal. That means no computer, TV, or phone activity while in recovery.

“If a young person receives a second concussion, it can cause catastrophic damage. Removal from play is important. You have to get over the mindset that you just have to suck it up and be tough. You’ve only got one brain, and it’s important to take care of it,” he said.

To hear more from Ruby and Eddie, please click here.