My Kid Has A Concussion…Now What?

concussion

If your kid has a concussion, I’m sorry. I know what you’re going through.

My 10-year old suffered a concussion in the spring of 2016. If you’re like me, you have a lot of questions swirling around in your mind. I had even more when he suffered a second concussion during the first week of this school year! Playing kickball of all things.

Because I had so many questions surrounding concussions and kids in sports, I called my friend Carrie Boan. Carrie is a pediactric physical therapist who specilizes in brain health and youth sports injury prevention. I asked Carrie a lot of the same questions that you may have as well. Since I know that I’m not the only sports parent going through something like this, I decided to record our conversation.

I’m glad I did, because Carrie gives some awesome answers that I believe will help you and your child.

Click here or the banner below to listen. Feel free to contact Carrie if you have more questions of your own about concussions and youth sports. She’s @Carrie_Boan on Twitter.

carrie-boan-intervieq

I’ll be honest. Concussions scare the heck out of me. They’re so scary because they’re mysterious. They’re not a black and white injury like a broken bone or muscle tear.

You can’t see a concussion and how bad it is on an x-ray. There’s no grading scale of a concussion. And the part that’s the most scary is that we’re talking about a brain injury! Bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles… they can be repaired without long term consequences. But the brain is a whole different story.

I had so many questions…

When can my child return to playing sports after a concussion?

Is a kid more susceptible to concussions after having one?

What are the long term effects from concussions for kids?

How many concussions is too many for a kid to have?

My son Brayden got his first concussion playing in an ice hockey tournament in Chicago. It happened during a Saturday morning game. But we didn’t know about it until around 4:00 A.M. Monday morning and after he played in two more games!

Let me explain.

He got the concussion on a play that happens all the time. It wasn’t a violent collision. They didn’t stop play. The coaches didn’t have to come out onto the ice to see if he was OK.

Brayden was battling for a loose puck around center ice, near the blue line in front of his team’s bench. There were two other players from the other team battling against him. His skates got caught up on another stick or skates and he fell awkwardly on his right side with his arms down, gripping his stick. He appeared to land mainly on his upper arm near his shoulder.

He got up and skated, hunched over, directly to his bench. I watched and his coach came over to talk to him for a few seconds while he sat on the bench. After about 20 seconds, he popped up and stood next to his teammates watching the play.

I just figured he had the wind knocked out of him since he fell in an awkward position.

What I didn’t realize is that he hit his head and helmet pretty hard on the ice.

He didn’t miss his next shift though.

He didn’t say anything about the fall after the game. And then he played in another game later in the day on Saturday. And he played well.

Then he played in another game early on Sunday morning. Again, played a great game on D and even scored a goal. After his Sunday morning game, our family went to downtown Chicago, had lunch and walked around for the rest of the day before driving back home to St. Louis.

Everything was fine.

Then, around 4:00 in the morning on Monday, Brayden woke me up and said that his stomach hurt. He felt like he was going to throw up and his head hurt.

I thought he may have caught a stomach bug on our trip or something. (Again, I didn’t realize that he hit his head on that play.)

We held him home from school that day. When Brayden was still complaining  of a headache on Monday night, my wife asked me if I thought it was from when he hit his head on the ice.

I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. I didn’t recall him hitting his head in the game. Then she reminded me of his awkward fall near center ice.

I asked Bray about that fall and asked if he hit his head. He said that he hit his head really hard on that play.

The next morning, he still had a bad headache. We held him out of school again and made an appointment with his doctor.

The doctor confirmed our fear. Brayden had a concussion.

He had to be shut down from any physical activity until the headache subsided.

I informed Brayden’s hockey coach that we were shutting him down for the rest of the spring. His team was playing in another tournament in a few weeks, but Brayden wasn’t going to be a part of it.

I also told his baseball and soccer coaches that we were shutting him down for a few weeks. I explained to both coaches that we were being extra cautious and weren’t going to rush him back. They were all very understanding.

Brayden also had to sit out of gym class, couldn’t run or play during recess or at home with his neighborhood buddies.

I knew he was feeling pretty bad because that kid will do anything to get outside and play with his friends. But while he had headaches, he didn’t even want to go outside.

More than a month went by before Brayden was without a headache.

It felt like an eternity.

When the headaches finally subsided, Brayden was able to begin trying some physical activity. He had to start slowly and then gauge how he felt afterwards.

If he didn’t get a headache or feel sick within 24 hours of the activity, then he could take it up a notch the next day. Over the next couple of weeks, Brayden was able to ramp up his activity until he was back to playing like normal in the neighborhood and gym class.

He returned to playing sports soon after.

Everything was going great until late in August of this year. Brayden and another kid collided while playing kickball in gym class. The crown of the other kid’s head hit Brayden near the temple of his head.

He suffered a second concussion! A second concussion in less than six months!

By late August, his regular hockey season was in full swing. He had to be shut down for a little more than a month this time. Returned to playing games on October 1st.

His headaches didn’t last nearly as long with this second concussion. He also didn’t act as down in the dumps as he did with his first one. That leads me to believe that his second one wasn’t as bad. But, it’s like I said, we aren’t certain of that because there’s no way to know for sure.

It’s frustrating and scary.

If your child recently suffered a concussion, I hope this helps you go through the process that’s filled with question marks.

Thanks for reading (and listening).

-Kevin

The #1 Trait Of A Great Sports Parent Is…

Top Trait Of Sports Parent Perspective SDHIf you’re competitive and passionate about helping your child succeed, it’s easy to get carried away when it comes to youth sports. Games can get exciting. There can be pressures to put your kid into more training, personal coaching, year-round leagues.

Unless you’re conscious about making sure things don’t get out of hand, they will get out of hand. Including your own emotions.

In my humble opinion, the #1 trait of a great sports parent is . . . PERSPECTIVE.

When you have perspective, it’s difficult to allow your emotions and competitiveness get the best of you. Perspective can keep you from getting wrapped up in the craziness, stress and politics found in many youth sports organizations today.

There are 4 key areas where perspective goes a long way.

1. TIME – These years of youth sports go by so fast. Before you know it, your child will be grown and you’ll miss the chaotic schedules, games & even practices. I’ve found myself thinking things like, “I can’t wait until he’s older and can __(fill in the blank__.” They’ll be older soon enough. Embrace, soak in and capture the moments you have with them right now. You never know. They may decide to stop playing before they ever reach the point in time you’ve been so busy looking forward to. Then you’ll look back are realized all the great moments you took for granted.
2. REFEREES & UMPIRES – I know, I know. It can be difficult to find really good officials. And it can be frustrating when a bad call goes against your kid. This is where perspective is so important. Game officials are just regular people who enjoy sports like you & me. Reffing your kid’s soccer game at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon is taking them away from their own family. It’s not their full-time profession. They’re there to earn some extra money. They don’t have it out for your kid’s team. They’re human and don’t have instant replay. They’re doing the best that they can. Do you think they want to blow a call so that they have to deal with other grown adults yelling at them and disrespecting them? And here’s the biggest point about referees and umpires . . . The kids can’t play real games without them.
3. COACHES – Unless a coach is disrespectful to the kids and parents, does something to embarrass your team and organization or puts kids in harms way, we should think long and hard before criticizing him. When was the last time your child played for a coach who was paid to coach? My point is, youth sports coaches are volunteers. They don’t have to take on that role and responsibility, but they do. And they do it to help your kid. There’s a lot of stress involved with being a coach and being second guessed by parents is a recipe for disaster. The best thing you can give a coach is your support, cooperation, respect, and of course, proper perspective.
4. BIG PICTURE – Even though this one is labeled #4, I actually believe it’s the biggest one. So many sports parents get borderline obsessed with their child being the best player on their team, in their league and in their city. They’re constantly pushing and pressuring their kid to succeed. I get stressed out just by observing some of these parents. Imagine how their kids feel! It’s difficult enough to succeed in sports. No kid needs added pressure from his own parents. Who cares if your kid is the best hockey player in the league when he’s 10 if he burns out by age 14 and is a complete jerkface by 20?
In the grand scheme of things, the most important outcome from youth sports is how they help your child develop into an awesome adult. If used properly, sports can help your child become an adult with tremendous leadership skills, great work ethic, sound communication skills, empathy, integrity, determination, class, the ability to embrace failure & learn from it and enjoy victory without gloating.
When your child is an adult, hopefully he’ll be able to look back upon his youth sports days with fond memories and positive feelings. These things are way more important than the outcome of any game. In 15-20 years, the games won’t matter, but who your child became & what your relationship is like as a result of it all will mean more than anything.
That’s PERSPECTIVE.
Thanks for reading,
-Kevin
P.S. If the expense of youth sports is putting a strain on your household finances, check out my personal blog at www.KevinDuy.com. I share the great side business that has been a game changer for my family. I’m helping other families do the same thing. If that’s something you could use, I’d love to help you too.

How Do You Know When Your Kid Has Outgrown His Team?

Brayden getting coached croppedHow do you know when your kid has outgrown his team? When should you move him to a new team that will continue to challenge him & help his development?  How can you know the answer to that question?

By using the same thing that gets most of us through this thing called parenting…your gut.

YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR KID. 

My 7-year old son has played for the same soccer team & coach since he began playing at 4-years old. We liked that team & coach a lot. Great kids, great parents. It was the perfect first team to introduce the sport of soccer to Brayden.

But Brayden is REALLY into sports. He loves sports more than Scooby-Doo loves Scooby Snacks and more than Miley Cyrus loves attention.

Last season I started to notice signs that maybe Brayden was starting to outgrow his team. Some of his teammates weren’t really into the games or practices. There were times when they could have easily gotten open to receive a pass and didn’t. There were times when they should have passed to other wide-open players & didn’t. There were times when they could have won a loose ball but didn’t simply because they didn’t have the desire to hustle and get to the ball first.

During the off-season, we were presented with the option to have Brayden play on a new team in a different and more competitive league. Since Brayden’s best friend was also going to be on this new team, it was a no-brainer and we jumped at the opportunity.

HOW MUCH IMPACT DOES YOUR SON’S TEAMMATES HAVE ON HIM? 

Many of the kids on this new team, including his best friend, came from a team that Brayden’s team played against last season. Brayden’s team lost all three games. These kids can play, so I knew they would help Brayden raise his game.

Have you ever heard the philosophy that, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with?” As I become “more experienced” in life, I buy into this philosophy more and more. I think the same can be said about teammates in sports. If your son is on a team with good kids who love to compete, then his skill level and desire will also increase if he also loves to compete. (Those last six words are key.)

GROWTH OCCURS OUTSIDE OF OUR COMFORT ZONES. 

Brayden was the most talented player on his previous team. I know that sounds biased coming from his dad, but it’s the truth. He was the “straw that stirred the drink,” as Reggie Jackson would say. During Brayden’s first few years playing soccer, the game came pretty easily to him.

This season has been a different story. Brayden has flat out struggled at times. He’s cried after games and has said things like, “I’m not as good as some of the other kids on my team.”

And THAT’S when I knew we made the right move coming to this new team.

Although it was difficult to see him struggle and look uncomfortable during some games, I knew that it would benefit him in the long run. It’s good for kids to get outside of their comfort zone. That’s where growth occurs.

Now don’t get me wrong. Having fun is still a main priority. I ask Brayden after every practice if he had fun and if he likes his new team. His response is always positive. My favorite response he’s given me was, “Yes, I love my team! All the other kids are so good!”

Brayden’s move to this team and this league can be equated to a high school player going to a Division I school. Future Division I ball players stand out like crazy on high school teams. They can flat out dominate at the high school level. But as soon as they get to college, they’re competing with and against kids who were also the best players on their high school teams and in their high school leagues. In order to be a standout again, they need to raise their game.

Rise To A Challenge

Brayden soon discovered that he could no longer blow past his opponents. His bull in a China shop style of dribbling through traffic wasn’t cutting it here. He’s had to learn a lot more about passing and positioning. He’s had to learn how to handle frustration.  He’s had to learn how to handle more instruction from his coaches.

It’s fair to say that the majority of the other kids on this team had a higher soccer IQ going into the season. During his first few seasons, Brayden was simply getting by on raw talent and ability. Now he’s had to learn more about the technical side of the game. He’s had to learn about ball movement and strategy.

He’s also had to develop better foot skills with the ball. The 7-Touch Training shoes he used in the off-season have benefited him in this area. By using the Seven-Touch Trainers he gained a knowledge base of how he can use the different parts of his feet effectively when striking the ball in different ways. They gave him a visual reference of all the different ways he could make plays with his feet.

Improvement Begins With Desire

I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy to see Brayden struggle this season. There were times when I second-guessed putting him on this team. I had thoughts like, “Maybe I should have just left well enough alone.” “I hope I didn’t just do something that will make him not like soccer any more.”

Seeing him struggle in sports was new for me. Until this season, everything came easy to him. But it has been the best thing for him and his development in the sport and as a person. I know this because he’s getting better. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s far and away a better player now than he was earlier in the season.

Perhaps the coolest thing about his improvement is that a lot of it has come from within. He’s worked hard on his soccer skills on his own. Most mornings when I’m leaving for work, Brayden is already outside kicking and juggling the ball around the yard.

At the beginning of this post I said, “You have to know your kid.” I know Brayden’s drive and competitive spirit. He wants to be the best player on the team. For that reason, I believe it’s good that he’s not. Complacency is the root of a champion’s demise. [CLICK TO TWEET THAT]

This season has taught him the value of hard work. It’s taught him how to handle adversity. It’s taught him to challenge himself and embrace the process of improving himself.

It’s taught me that even though it’s not easy to watch your kids struggle, life is about growth. None of us can grow if we allow our comfort zones to limit our potential.

Thanks for reading.

-Kevin

"Dad, will you play catch with me?"

Dad will you play catch with me“Dad, will you play catch with me?”

That’s a special phrase that always has a profound impact on me. When one of my three boys asks me to play catch, I never take the question lightly.

It always makes me feel great inside. Unless I can’t play with him.

Then I get an incredibly guilty feeling in my gut. Like the one I have right now as I’m typing this.

Yesterday was my youngest son’s 6th birthday. My wife (Kim) and I both got home from work around 6:00. That’s the time when I usually get home, but it was late for Kim, a first grade teacher. She had a meeting after school that went long. When she got home, her work wasn’t finished. She still had to grade students’ work and go through the process of classroom placement and recommendations for next school year.

When I pulled into the driveway, I knew that Carter’s requested birthday dinner of hot dogs and SpongeBob Mac & Cheese needed to be made. Before I could turn the engine off, my 7-year old son, Brayden, came running up to the van and asked, “Dad, will you play catch with me?”

It killed me to say… 

Click here to read the rest at CoachUp.com and answer my question about guilt. 

What's The Point Of Youth Sports Teams Traveling?

My 9-year-old son before his 1st game at the Notre Dame Hockey Arena.

My 9-year-old son before his 1st game at the Notre Dame Hockey Arena.

This was the first season that we had to do any kind of traveling with our sons’ sports teams. At first, the thought of young kids playing in out of town tournaments seemed very silly and downright unnecessary to me.

What’s the point?

It’s not like we live in a rural community that doesn’t have plenty of other teams for us to play. The kids don’t care who they play against or where they play. They just want to play games.

And between you and me, the added expense of a weekend away from home didn’t thrill me either. Three boys in hockey is expensive enough already!

But after traveling three different times this season with two of my boys’ youth hockey teams, my perspective has changed.

Now, I see the point…

Click here to read the rest over at CoachUp.com

 

 

A Meaningless Game That Meant A Whole Lot

Father son ice hockey skates - Sports Dad HubIf you’ve ever played sports you know that certain games have more meaning and create more lasting memories than others. Last Saturday, I played in one of those games.

At the age of 35, I played my first ever ice hockey game. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous to step out onto the ice. If you saw the competition, you’d understand. They were an intimidating bunch.

During the pregame skate they were flying around the rink, yappin’ at me and my teammates. They weren’t the biggest guys, but man could they skate!

As for me, let’s just say that lacing up a pair of crusty rental skates once a year throughout my childhood and early adult life wasn’t the best action plan to develop skating skills.

But that’s OK. In this game it wasn’t going to matter how fast I skated or if I fell down a bunch of times and made a complete fool of myself. The only thing that mattered was…

Click here to read the rest at CoachUp.com