Many young athletes step onto pitches, fields, and courts every day taking huge hits and falls. Those who get concussions may not be diagnosed and make it back on the field in less than 24 hours. These concussions can have long-term effects on the brain.

A concussion happens due to a hard hit directly to the head or the violence of the shaking of the head and body. Concussions do not always come from a direct collision with the head. For instance, in football, if you take a hard hit on your back and your head jolts back and forth, this can also cause a concussion.

A repeated concussion can also cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which will last throughout a person’s life, and can alter their behavior. In some cases, it may get so severe that it could lead to dementia.

There are many side effects of concussions on kids and adults. Some of these symptoms are headaches, ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. You can also have brain fog and feel dizzy. These injuries cause students to struggle with their school work or not be able to take part in school.

It can take a long time for athletes to fully recover. “On average I would say it takes athlete’s 14 to 21 days to fully return to sports without restrictions from the day of initial injury/concussion diagnosis,” said Myranda Fields, the athletic trainer at Carrboro High School.

In the NFL, there are concussions every week. In 2009 the NFL implemented the 5 step concussion protocol to increase the safety of athletes. Before returning to play in the NFL, players have to get examinations from neurological consultants and the team doctor. This is also in place at Carrboro high school “I also communicate with the supervising physician and get their input as well before fully allowing an athlete to return to athletics”, Fields said. There are many reports(What a lifetime of playing football can do to the human brain – Vox) in the NFL that these protocols are not taken seriously on some teams. The NFL has also made new rules for safety like banning helmet to helmet hits.

Carrboro High school has many steps in place to determine when an athlete is ready to return to play after getting a concussion. “Athletes must complete a 5-day return to play progression (RTP) that is required by the state to return to athletics. They must be asymptomatic to start the return to play. I use an online cognitive test (concussion vital signs), VOMS, and SCAT5 as evaluation tools to determine when it is safe to return an athlete to a sport.” said Fields

Concussions can happen in any sport but Carrboro High School is prepared with a strict return to play protocol.