A Nurse and Mother on Dialing Back the Risk in Football

By Karen Roush, MS, RN, FNP-C, AJN clinical managing editor

One Monday afternoon when my son Bryan was a senior in high school I got a call from him. He had hurt his back during football practice and was in so much pain he couldn’t move to get into his car. I rushed over to the field and found him standing, tense and still. When I lifted his shirt to look at his back, I gasped. The entire lumbar area was rounded and swollen out to the size of a grapefruit. At the hospital tests revealed he had a large hematoma, no critical damage done. The first question Bryan had for the doctor—“Can I play on Saturday?”

All week he insisted he could play and I insisted he couldn’t. His arguments never let up—he was quarterback and Saturday’s game was with an archrival. There wasn’t time for the backup quarterback to learn the plays, his team depended on him. Finally I made a bargain. We would go see his physician, whose judgment I trusted, and we would both respect his opinion, whichever way it went.

He played. One of the coaches wrapped his back in layers of padding with an ACE bandage and out he went. It was a brutal game. As determined as he was, the pain still slowed him down and he got tossed around like a rag doll. Finally in the […]

September 14th, 2012|nursing perspective, Public health|1 Comment

Back to School: Team Sports and Concussions

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN interim editor-in-chief

Concussions among young athletes are on the rise—are parents and coaches taking them too lightly?

My sons played ice hockey and football in their high school years, what my husband and I referred to as “collision sports.” The unmistakable sound of helmet-hitting-helmet always made me cringe, especially in hockey where a good skater can generate considerable speed (and therefore force) before impact. I’ve witnessed many players being helped off the ice. The coach, who knew I was a nurse, would sometimes signal to me to come to the bench and check out a player. Most of the time, the player was fine; but there were a few times when it was clear that the player was a bit more than just shaken up.

I recall one 12-year-old who had nystagmus and ringing in his ears and kept asking the same question in a slow, sleepy voice. The coach wanted to put him back out on the ice (“He just saw a few stars, right?”), but instead I sent him with his parents to the ED for evaluation. After an overnight stay in the hospital he was released, but was cautioned not to play hockey for two weeks because he’d suffered a concussion. So he waited two weeks and went back to playing, even though he still had frequent headaches. I also remember a […]

September 1st, 2010|nursing perspective|0 Comments