For sports such as football and soccer which have high concussion rates, it is important that parents and athletes be on the same page as the coaches and medical staff on the subject of concussions before practices start.
The best way is for the coach to hold a concussion education and safety meeting for parents and athletes before every season.
Ideally, the meeting should include presentations by:
1. Medical doctors familiar with the grading and evaluation of concussions and return to play guidelines to educate parents on the important role they play in their child's recovery from a suspected concussion, especially in terms of:
- checking for signs of deteriorating mental status requiring immediate hospitalization,
- ensuring that their child gets the cognitive rest required,
- monitoring for continuing signs and symptoms of post-concussion syndrome that must clear completely before an athlete should be allowed to return to play, and
- educating their child about the dangers they face if they fail to report symptoms or begin playing again before symptoms have cleared.
2. Former athletes who can share personal stories about the consequences of continuing to play with concussion symptoms and/or the long-term health consequences of multiple concussions, such as reoccurring headaches, depression, and concentration and memory problems.
3. Parents of concussed athletes who can emphasize how critical it is that, in making the all-important return-to-play decision, parents put a child's long term future and well-being above short-term athletic success; that parents constantly evaluate, along with their child if she is old enough, whether the risk of chronic major depression or early signs of Alzheimer's down the road may make ending a career the best choice.