Though injuries on the soccer field can be a rare thing, they do happen. One moment your kid is about to make a goal, and the next he's lying on the grass, clutching hishead. You race to their side, visions of concussions and brain damage racing through your head. The coach meets you out there and gives Junior a quick evaluation before sending him back out to join the team.
You return to the sidelines, wondering if he made the right decision. Could Junior have a concussion and not know it? What if there were complications that weren't evident in the quick check the coach did? How can you be sure?
More than likely there is nothing to be concerned about. Mother Nature designed the human skull to act as a protective "helmet", wrapping our delicate brain in hard bone and thick spinal fluid to help protect it against sudden impacts and falls.
When a head injury does happen, it is usually one of two types:
- Concussion – A sudden impact sends your brain crashing around in your skull. This "bouncing around" injures it.
- Bleeding – Small blood vessels between the skull and your brain break open, causing pressure to build inside your skull.
So, what is a mom supposed to do when they suspect that their kid has a head injury while playing sports? Here are some great tips:
- Stay calm – Most kids will feed off of your emotions, so if you freak out, they will too. Keep relaxed and calm while you assess the injury.
- Take them off the field immediately – Use this time to evaluate them yourself. You're the parent and know your kid better than any coach. Don't let them return to the game until you feel comfortable doing so.
- Stop the bleeding – Your grandmother was right when she said that head injuries always bleed a lot. The skin on your forehead and scalp are rich with blood vessels that seem to bleed on forever when they are cut. So, if you have a bleeder, use a clean cloth, roll of paper towels, or T-shirt to apply pressure to the wound. It will stop with time as long as you keep pressure on it. Once the bleeding has stopped, take a look at the injury and see if it needs stitches.
- Ice – See if Junior will let you place an ice pack or towel full of ice on the bump. The cold will help keep the swelling on the outside of the skull down. Apply for 20 minute at a time maximum, with at least a five minute break in between. (This isn't absolutely necessary and many say that it's a good sign if you kid fights you putting ice on his head.)
- Observe your kid's behavior – Is he walking around, alert, able to answer questions, and acting like he usually does? Then he's fine – give him a hug, a band aid, and a sip of water before sending him back out on the field. If he's not acting right, lost consciousness even for a few seconds, lethargic, has difficulty thinking, vomiting, blurred vision, headache, strange eye behavior, or has difficulties walking normally, pull him from the game and call the doctor's office.
- Keep an eye on Junior for at least 24 hours after injury – If you see any of the above symptoms, call your child's doctor's office or take him to the nearest emergency.
Of course, if your Mama intuition is pinging and you don't know why, stop and listen to it. Call your doctor's office and see what they say. Even if it's all for nothing, keep in mind that many lives have been saved because mom felt that something wasn't right but couldn't put her thumb on it.