Youth Concussions: What Parents Need to Know

In 2014, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law to provide new protections for high school athletes regarding concussions. A recent NPR Illinois story indicates that while reporting of student concussions has increased in recent years, not every Illinois high school has the resources to fully implement the law.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells. This short video explains concussions and how to treat them.

Recognizing a Concussion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that parents may observe the following signs in their children that can indicate a concussion:

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.

In addition, the CDC says that children and teens who have suffered a concussion may report the following symptoms:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.”

If you suspect your child has suffered a concussion, take them to a doctor for evaluation. Note that a concussion can occur from any blow to the head, not just those from youth sports, so be aware of the possibility of a concussion occurring even on the playground or at home.

Resources on Concussions

The CDC has numerous resources on concussions for parents, including:

Photo © 2006 by Jamie Williams under Creative Commons license.

What Parents Should Know About Distracted Driving

Today’s post is courtesy of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The information is also available as a PDF infographic that you can share.

Driver inattention is the number one cause of motor vehicle crashes.

  • Drivers are distracted about 10% of the time they are behind the wheel.
  • Distracting secondary tasks—such as texting or dialing—take the driver’s eyes off the forward roadway, making it harder for him or her to react to unexpected hazards.
  • Engaging in distracting tasks is more dangerous for novice teenage drivers than experienced adult drivers.

Distracting tasks that take the driver’s eyes off the forward roadway increase crash risk!

  • Sending or checking texts
  • Using a phone to dial, check social media, take pictures, or play music
  • Looking at a map or GPS
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to other passengers, especially other teens
  • Adjusting a radio, windows, or mirrors in the car

How can you keep your teen safe?

  1. Supervise your newly licensed teen more closely than you think you need to. Ride with him/her when you can.
  2. Do not allow cell phone use while driving. If your teen needs to take a call, remind him/her to pull over to the side of the road.
  3. Limit nighttime driving and driving with passengers, especially during the first 6 months after your teen gets a license.
  4. Agree, in writing, to a series of monthly “checkpoints,” easing restrictions as your teen’s judgment and experience improve.
  5. Model good behavior when you are behind the wheel.

The NICHD is committed to research on driving risks and ways to help keep teen drivers safe.

To learn more about how to reduce accidents due to distracted driving, visit http://www.distraction.gov or /health/topics/driving.

References

Does Advocacy Matter?

PTA was founded 120 years ago to focus on advocacy on behalf of children, and many things we take for granted today—child labor laws, the juvenile justice system, childhood immunizations, the school lunch program—happened because of PTA advocacy. But when we look back at those examples today, our thoughts may lean towards those being obvious choices—of course children shouldn’t work in dangerous factories and mines, be locked up with adult prisoners, die from preventable diseases, or go hungry at school. As individuals, we may feel that our voice is too small, that there are too many lobbyists with too much money drowning out what we’re saying. So, does advocacy matter?

At Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield in 2016, a dozen PTA advocates visited legislators and their staff to push for passage of SB550, a school drinking water lead testing bill that was stuck in committee and going nowhere. Hundreds of other PTA advocates participated in our online Call to Action to contact their legislators as well. The result was a “dead” bill suddenly moving to passage and signed into law.

The law is a great success for PTA advocacy, and we should all be proud of our efforts, but passing a law often seems abstract when trying to get others to join us in advocacy. That is why it is important to remember that passing laws or developing regulations are like only the building of a rocket. It is the implementation that is what launches that rocket.

So what has been the real effect of passing SB550? Schools have been testing their drinking water, and how that testing will benefit young children in Illinois is becoming increasingly clear. School districts across the state are having to deal with unsafe drinking water that has been harming children for decades. Note this small sample of news articles, citing schools with high lead levels:

And there are many more school districts like those listed. It should also be noted that Chicago Public Schools began testing for lead before the law was passed.

So the efforts of about 1% of Illinois PTA members advocating for children means that high lead contamination of drinking water in day cares and elementary schools will soon be a thing of the past. That will make a significant difference in the lives of each of those children, and that is why advocacy matters. Imagine what we could accomplish if every PTA member was actively advocating for children.

Get Involved Now!

Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield 2017 was last week. If you weren’t able to join us, contact your legislators now (it literally takes two minutes), and don’t forget to sign up for the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network to ensure you don’t miss additional opportunities to speak up for Illinois children.

 

 

20 John Wooden Quotes to Share with Your Child

Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden accomplished a lot on the court—10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including an unprecedented seven in a row, and being named national coach of the year six times. For his players, though, it was what he taught them off the court that had a greater effect on their lives than what he taught them on the court. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, among others, still speak of Coach Wooden in reverent terms. Here are 20 quotes from Coach Wooden to share with your child to help inspire them to do and be their best.

  1. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
  2. “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
  3. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  4. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  5. “Young people need models, not critics.”
  6. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
  7. “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”
  8. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
  9. “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.”
  10. “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  11. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
  12. “Whatever you do, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”
  13. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
  14. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
  15. “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.”
  16. “If you’re true to yourself, you’re going to be true to everyone else.”
  17. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
  18. “Make each day your masterpiece.”
  19. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them, and your foes won’t believe them.”
  20. “The most important thing in the world is family and love.”

Consider picking a quote or two to discuss with your family this week, and really dig into what Coach Wooden is saying about character, success, and life.