Protecting young football players from concussions

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 11:25 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A UAB doctor says he sees more concussions in the fall during football season than any other time of the year.

There’s been an emphasis on head injuries and football for the last week, starting with a head injury to Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Another unfortunate head injury in a pro-football game Thursday night when Colts Running Back Nyheim Hines was helped off the field after a hit at the beginning of the game. He then entered the NFL’s concussion protocol and was ruled out.

These injuries might have some parents worrying about their kids in football.

Dr. Calvin Spellmon, Jr. says because football has so many athletes on the field at once, and because it’s a collision sport, these athletes are at a high risk for concussions.

The doctor is a primary care sports medicine physician for UAB Sports and Exercise Medicine.

He says one of the big issues with young people getting them is the recovery process. Dr. Spellmon says it’s difficult for some middle and high schoolers to actually rest and take a step back from the social and athletic life. If they don’t, their risk for an even worse injury is heightened.

More than anything, Dr. Spellmon says protecting your head is crucial.

“We can replace knees, we can replace shoulders, we can replace hips,” he said. “We cannot replace your brain and that same brain that you’re living with now will be the same brain you have to live with as you get older. Typically, the brain doesn’t even mature until around the age of 25. Again, we’re still learning about concussions and the long-term ramifications, but you have to protect your children.”

Dr. Spellmon says helmets themselves cannot prevent a concussion. He says it’s important to teach young people the proper techniques of tackling and protecting their head when falling or colliding with others.

He added that anyone can suffer a concussion doing almost anything, not just sports. He sees many patients who get the injury from simply tripping and falling.

While most people can recover in 7-14 days, it all depends on the injury and how the person handles their recovery. Dr. Spellmon is emphasizing how important it is to take the process slow. Resting and avoiding screens are a big part of healing.

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