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Atlanta Falcons Talk Concussion Safety at Wynbrooke Elementary

Physician: "When in doubt, sit it out."

Concussions are serious business. Keep kids out of the game if they show the telltale signs.

That was one of the key messages at the Atlanta Falcons-NFL Health & Safety Forum at Thursday.

"When in doubt, sit it out. You don't take any chances," said said Dr. Kaveh Khajavi of the Georgia Spine and Neurosurgery Center.

Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay, former and current Falcons players, a representative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and NFL specialists spoke to parents, youth football league commissioners and coaches about the signs, dangers and treatment of concussion.

"It's all those tiny repetitive hits that can add up and have serious long term damage," said Coy Wire, former Atlanta Falcons linebacker.

The Symptoms

Symptoms include:

headache, nausea, confusion, imbalance, difficulty concentrating, trouble with light and noise, dizziness.

"Carry a list of symptoms with you," said Kelly Sarmiento, director of communications with CDC.

What to Do

Suggestions from the CDC and other panelists include:

  • Remove the child from play immediately.
  • Do not have the child return to play the same day of the game
  • A health care professional must clear the child to play again. "The clock doesn't start until all the symptoms are gone," said Dr. Gerald Rodts, Jr., of Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center.
  • Encourage athletes to practice good sportsmanship.
  • Wear protective equipment - but remember, there is no concussion-proof helmet, Sarmiento said.

Concussion Facts

About 40 percent of concussions occur among children.

"Kids are more susceptible to concussions. Kids heal slower," said Dr. Kaveh Khajavi of the Georgia Spine and Neurosurgery Center.

Concussion Training

An audience member asked about making it mandatory for coaches to take a class on concussions: "Why don't we take the movement to that level?" he asked.

Thirty-four states require coaches to take training, Sarmiento said. Georgia isn't one of them.

Georgia's "Return to Play Act of 2012" (Georgia House Bill 673) -- sponsored by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) and supported by the NFL -- would, among other things, would require yearly concussion training for coaches. But the bill didn't make it to a vote during this year's legislative session.

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