A blow to the noggin may not seem like a big deal when it happens.

But, left untreated, some can be deadly serious. And repeated head knocks can have dire health consequences years later. Here’s how to prevent head injury and protect your brain.

You will need NOCSAE-approved helmet Proper fit and caution.

Step 1.
Wear a helmet that meets the safety standards set by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment; look for the NOCSAE seal on the back of the helmet. When buying a new helmet, research the brands and models that offer the most updated protection against head injury. Don’t wear helmets more than 10 years old, even if they’ve been reconditioned.

Step 2.
Make sure your helmet fits properly. For a comprehensive guide on how to fit a football helmet, go to usafootball.com

Step 3.
Be aware of the kind of impact that often causes a concussion: A forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head.

Step 4.
On the field, practice “heads-up” football to help prevent head injury: Never use the top of your head to tackle, block, or strike an opponent. Don’t ever make initial contact with your helmet or face mask.

Step 5.
Stop playing immediately if you have one or more of the following concussion symptoms: A headache or the feeling of pressure in your head; nausea or vomiting; balance problems or dizziness; sensitivity to light or noise; a sluggish or groggy feeling; concentration or memory problems; or simply not feeling “right.” Get checked by a physician and do not return to play until you receive medical clearance. Athletes who return to play too soon after a concussion are at risk for second-impact syndrome, an often-fatal swelling of the brain caused by a second blow before the first is healed.

Step 6.
Recognize the signs of a blood clot: One pupil that’s larger than the other; extreme drowsiness; weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination; a worsening headache; repeated vomiting or nausea; slurred speech; convulsions; or a seizure. Though rare, this kind of head injury can be fatal, so call 911 at once. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of safety. An NFL study found that former players age 30 to 49 are diagnosed with memory-related disorders at a rate of 19 times the national average.

Keywords: Head Injury, Protect Your Brain, Concussion, Prevent Head Injury, Concussion Attorney

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