As summer turns to fall and BC kids return to gym class at school and extra-curricular sports, it’s important to be aware of staying safe while having fun.
The start of a new school year is a great time to get re-acquainted with safety regulations and tips and Dr. Shelina Babul, associate director and sports injury specialist at the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit and BC Children's Hospital, has spearheaded a growing online concussion resource tool that can be used all year around.
The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) was launched last summer at www.cattonline.com
. It was developed based on the latest research and best-practice recommendations by researchers in the field, both provincially and nationally.
“A concussion is a brain injury that can be caused by a direct blow to the head or indirect hit to another part of the body,” explains Dr. Babul.
“The impact of these hits causes the brain to suddenly shift or shake inside the skull, damaging nerve fibers and leaving brain cells vulnerable to further injury. Children are more vulnerable to concussions because their brains are still developing, their heads are bigger relative to their body size, and their necks are weaker.”
Symptoms of a concussion can include headaches, nausea, dizziness and confusion, and may appear immediately or not for hours or days. Serious complications can include brain damage, disability and death.
Currently the CATT offers information and resources for medical professionals and parents, players and coaches, including a brief training course on how to identify and respond effectively to concussions, manage the long-term impacts, and take steps to make sports safer for young athletes. There are also smartphone-accessible forms and tools to help parents and coaches track symptoms, decide how to respond to an injury, and record information for medical professionals. Even kids can get information through short, five-minute videos stories of young athletes who have had concussions and advice about safe play in contact sports like hockey, football and rugby.
The CATT has proven to be a useful resource so far: “Every parent whose child plays any sports should know this information,” said one parent during the evaluation phase. “This information will prevent many players from lifelong problems if it is known and followed by coaches and parents.”
The next component of the CATT will be launched at the end of August and is aimed specifically at school professionals, including administrators. This resource will provide the most up-to-date information on concussions and how to recognize, manage and minimize concussions in the schoolsetting and classroom.
“We are very excited to introduce the educator component to the CATT,” Dr Babul says. “We hope that the CATT becomes a go-to resource for all teachers and look forward to spreading the message of concussion awareness across BC and beyond.”