HEALTH WATCH: Concussion Risk

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The risk of a concussion is one we take every day, especially those who play sports.
Rhiannon Walker has the details in this week's Health Watch.
While concussion prevention efforts have improved dramatically over the past two decades, Doctor Richard Figler, a sports medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic, says there are some misconceptions about concussions that still exist.
One of those misconceptions is that a player will show symptoms of a concussion immediately after impact.
>>Richard Figler; Sports Medicine Physician At Cleveland Clinic: "They usually peak within the first few hours or so, but they can be delayed in onset. So the athlete that has a concussion during the game may not know it until they go home and they start to feel a little bit off or even the next day when they start to go to school and they realize that they're not functioning as well as they have in the past."
A concussion is a short-term impairment of the brain function that is usually cause by a blow to the head, or a jolt to the body.
Doctor Figler says that a concussion will usually cause symptoms that can last anywhere from ten to fourteen days.
These symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, feeling light headed, sensitivity to light and noise, difficulty concentrating or focusing, as well as changes in sleep or behavior patterns.
Doctor Figler says there have been rule changes, in recent years, aimed at decreasing the number of concussions suffered by athletes, such as proper football tackling techniques and the elimination of "checking" in some youth hockey leagues.
And while there have been many advances in equipment that can help protect athletes, Doctor Figler says it is important to note that there is currently no helmet that has been proven to prevent a concussion.
>>Richard Figler; Sports Medicine Physician At Cleveland Clinic:
"Helmets do not prevent concussions. They help with head injuries; they help with facial injuries, but they don't necessarily prevent concussions. They are better than what they used to be, but they're not perfect."
Doctor Figler says that coaches, players, and parents should be educated on how to spot an athlete who is exhibiting symptoms of a concussion.
He adds that it is crucial for these athletes to be removed from the field of play, as soon as possible, to avoid sustaining further injury, and to be evaluated by a medical professional.
For this weeks health watch, I'm Rhiannon Walker