Though we haven't found ways to prevent concussions entirely, there are ways to reduce your athlete's concussion risk. For all players, Children's Colorado providers encourage training in proper heading technique, good body positioning skills and improved core and upper body strength to prevent or limit the consequences of blows to the head. Talk with your coach and certified athletic trainer about concussions to be sure you are all on the same page.
Fair play and penalty enforcement
Eliminating body checking in boys' ice hockey has reduced concussion rates. Other rule changes, such as reducing the number of contact practices and teaching the heads up tackling technique for football, are being evaluated to see if they have a similar impact on concussion rates.
Encouraging fair play and stricter penalty enforcement does seem to help reduce the overall number of sports injuries, but the effect on concussion rates is not clearly established. Other emerging ideas, which need to be further researched, include vision training, neck strengthening and other equipment add-ons or modifications.
Since concussions occur from impacts that cause acceleration/deceleration as well as rotation of the head and neck, helmets and headgear do not completely prevent concussions.
However, a well-fitting helmet is important for reducing the risk of skull fractures and other catastrophic brain injuries. Helmets should be worn for all collision sports, as well as for recreational activities that carry a risk of falling from a height or at fast speeds, such as biking, skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, rock climbing and riding ATVs. The use of headgear has been shown to help reduce force to the head at the site of impact, but this has not been proven to translate into reduced brain impact force or reduced concussion risk.
Mouth guard protection
Mouth guards are effective in reducing injuries to the mouth – teeth, gums and tongue – but the evidence for reducing concussions is limited. Athletes who wear mouth guards in sports where use is not required seem to have a lower rate of concussions than athletes who don't wear mouth guards, but more research is needed to better understand this. Custom mouth guards don't seem to be more effective than standard "boil-and-bite" mouth guards, so just make sure your athlete's mouth guard fits them well and they wear it properly.