Concussions aren't at the forefront of the minds of most swim parents. Swimming isn't a contact sport and competitors in these activities rarely ever receive a bump or blow to the head. Young swimmers do, however, often participate in other sports like football, soccer or basketball where it's possible that they could get hit.
A child with a concussion could put themselves in danger if they participate in any swimming activities. USA Swimming has recognized this risk and has issued new guidelines about concussion management.
"Every athlete is different and responds to a brain injury differently, so seek medical attention if you suspect your child has a concussion," states a report from USA Swimming. "Once a concussion occurs, it is very important your athlete return to normal activities slowly, so he/she does not do more damage to his/her brain."
The organization reports that parents coaches and officials need to be on the lookout for the following signs of a concussion:
- Clumsy movement
- Child is unsure about the basic details of an event (name, location, etc.)
- Exhibits behavior or personality changes
- Inability to answer questions
- Swimmer seems dazed or stunned.
Young athletes may be apprehensive to admit that they're not feeling well, especially during an important meet. It's important for parents and coaches to reassure a child or teen that it's okay to take off their competition swimwear and take a break for a few days.
According to USA Swimming, the return to a pool after a concussion should be done gradually. First and foremost, follow any and all instructions from your child's healthcare provider. You should also inform your child's coach about your young athlete's progress.