Heads Up!

Because headers are part of the game, at least once a season someone is going to bang you in the head. Most of the time you'll just say ouch and keep going, but sometimes it's a little more serious than that.

Every time you're hit in the head hard, you have to worry about having a concussion. A concussion is basically a brain bruise. Most of the hits to your head will just end up bruising on the surface.

The skull does a really good job protecting your brain. But sometimes the hit is so hard, your brain gets a tiny bit injured. That's a concussion, and you have to look out for it.

Some signs of a concussion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness or walking unsteadily
  • Different-size pupils or pupils that don't react to light
  • Talking that makes no sense
  • Losing consciousness

WORDS to KNOW

Sprain: A stretching or tearing of a ligament.

Concussion: An injury to the head, particularly the brain, frequently involving a loss of consciousness and dizziness. Symptoms can last up to two weeks after the hit and include difficulty following a conversation, headache, sleeping, and more. The after-effects are called post-concussion syndrome.

If you have a few of these symptoms, get checked by a doctor. The doctor can make sure that you haven't cracked your skull or have bleeding in your brain. If you don't have these symptoms but are still worried because the hit was so hard, have someone keep an eye on you for about a day, looking for what might develop. Even at night, they should wake you up every couple of hours.

Tip

If you have had a really hard blow to the head, stop playing for the day, even if you don't think you have a concussion. A second hit to the same spot could really do some damage.

Injuries are part of sports, but don't worry. If you're careful, they don't have to be serious. Remember to stretch your muscles, pay attention to what your body is telling you, use RICE when you get an injury, and don't push yourself to play when you've been hurt.

There's a great rule of thumb to help you know when to say when. It's called the Five-Minute Rule. If you get hurt or you feel dizzy or anything like that, take a break for five minutes. If you're still not feeling right, then you have a more serious injury and should stop playing. If you feel pretty good, get back in the game!

FUN FACT

Save a Tooth

Every once in a while, players think they're going head to head for a soccer ball and they end up going head to tooth! Ouch! What do you do when a tooth gets knocked out? Believe it or not, a glass of milk is the solution. Put the tooth in milk and rush to the hospital or dentist. If you can't find milk, then pop the tooth in your mouth to keep it wet with your saliva. Just don't swallow it! Whatever you do, however, don't wash the tooth in water. That's a sure way to kill it.

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