Friday night lights have long been a South Georgia community event. Fall has finally arrived, though the temperatures say otherwise, and football season is in full swing. Your friends at Coffee Regional Medical Center would like to remind you to always keep safety in the game.
There are many words that have long described football: teamwork, physical, strong, and tough. Recent words associated with the game are focused on injury prevention. Media coverage and social media have created awareness which has brought increased scrutiny of the sport. Specifically, new reports have been numerous on various professional football head-related injuries that have been found to have lasting effects. Not only have injuries been highlighted, but unfortunately cases of death as well. The recent, tragic death of a Georgia high school Junior has brought this issue back into the spot light. Due to this danger, football has begun to evolve. Better equipment, better practice standards, better observation of athletes for injuries by both coaches and families.
Suited up in full body armor, you’d expect the players to be protected from the often mighty force of the hits and tackles. In light of the latest news and media reports, it appears as though, in some situations, the pads and helmet protection is just not enough. Helmets and pads have come a long way in the last decade, specially fitted to the player and protecting the player beyond what any previous helmet has done. Many sports equipment companies have designated design engineers and development labs where they are constantly testing various helmet designs aimed at reducing forces of impact to the players head. These sports equipment companies have made great strides, producing helmets that are leaps and bounds ahead of those used the past.
Sports Medicine orthopedist, of Orthopedic Surgeons of Georgia, Dr. Stephen Augustine weighed in on these injuries. “Education of common injuries, such as concussion, is important for not only the coaches but also the players and their families. A concussion is often subtle and symptoms can be delayed,” stated Dr. Augustine. He continued, “A mild concussion may present itself in a less obvious way, such as a mild headache or light nausea. It is important that the player be vigilant and aware of when he or she feels like something isn’t right. Experiencing a second concussion before the first has completely healed can be fatal.” Known as ‘Second Impact Syndrome’, a concussion to a person who has not completely healed from a previous concussion can experience rapid and usually fatal brain swelling. This is rare; however it is one reason why it is very important to take all possible concussions seriously.
Blunt force trauma is not the only danger on the field. Dr. Augustine noted. “Heat related injuries can be very serious. In South Georgia fashion, the outdoor temperatures during practice can be 100 degrees or more some days. Of course, most coaches use great caution during extreme heat, and the Georgia High School Association has set policy to ensure player safety, but the heavy protective armor coupled with exertion in high heat can produce dangerous situations, if that caution is not taken.”
Below are warning signs and symptoms for possible concussion and heat exhaustion. If you or a loved one suspects a concussion or heat related syndrome, seek medical help immediately.
Symptoms of a Concussion
- Forgetfulness surrounding the event
- Temporary Loss of Consciousness
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Delayed Response to questions
- Vision Impairment
Symptoms of Heat Related Syndromes: Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, or Heat Stroke
- Feeling Faint or Dizzy
- Weak or Rapid Pulse
- Muscle Cramps
- Cool, moist skin with goose bumps while in the heat
- Excessive Sweating
Be sure to keep safety FIRST and keep these safety tips in mind when you or your loved one is playing or practicing their favorite sport. Your friends and physicians at Coffee Regional Medical Center are so proud of our talented athletes in Coffee and Atkinson Counties and wish you all a successful season. Remember, the first goal is always safety.
Dr. Stephen Augustine is fellowship trained in both sports medicine and shoulder arthroscopy at the Hughston Clinic. He is an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedic Surgeons of Georgia, located behind Coffee Regional Medical Center. For more information, visit www.coffeeregional.org/orthopedics or call (912) 383-6575.