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Our brains are powerful. They control everything our bodies do. Every thought, every action, is dependent on our the health of our brains. Our personalities, our decisions, our ability to survive and thrive. This is true at all ages. Whether a young child whose brain is still developing. Or a 30-year-old who is at the prime of life. Or a grandmother striving to keep her mind sharp.
But our brains are also susceptible to harm. This is especially true for athletes of all ages—but specifically young athletes. Young athletes that participate in contact sports are at a high risk of sustaining a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. And rates of these concussions and injuries are increasing among athletes. If you are the parent of an adolescent athlete, you need to be aware of what your child is up against and what you can do to protect them from injury. What can you do to help your child?
Forte began with a need for nutritional care and treatment. When his 5-star athlete suffered a fracture, our Chief Medical Officer had to find a way to provide a speedy and full recovery. This experience inspired him to apply nutritional care to all types of injuries and conditions. Just as we designed all our products for a specific purpose, we developed Forte Brain Protect to do as its name says—help protect your brain from injury, damage, and complication.
Stats You Should Know
Concussions are getting a lot of attention lately. But this isn’t just a new fad—it is a serious problem. Injuries, in general, are ever prevalent among young athletes.
There are many different types of athlete injuries. And you can’t always avoid them. Fractures, strains, sprains, tears, all of the above. In fact, more than 10 million sports-related injuries occur each year.
Your child spends their week preparing for game day, whether they play baseball, football, tennis, or basketball. Gameday can be stressful and intense and a perfect scenario for an injury to occur. However, 62% of injuries occur during practice. Because that is where your athlete spends a majority of their time off the field and in practice. Parents must take caution during any time of athletic activity.
Up to 3.8 million sports-related brain injuries happen each year. Each year. And if your child is in a contact sport, they can sustain multiple concussions in one season alone. Repeated concussions have serious consequences on a developing brain.
You may think the effects of a concussion might wear off in a few days. But concussions can have a lasting impact—especially if your child experiences more than one. If the concussion isn’t serious, symptoms may last up to 7-10 days. However, studies have shown that 33% still suffer symptoms up to six months after. And 15% still have problems up to a year after the concussion.
Sports That Put Athletes at High Risk
Your brain doesn’t stop developing usually until your mid-twenties. Your child’s brain is in critical development, whether in middle school, high school, or even college.
In an article published in Clinical Medicine & Research, researchers found that:
- High school athletes are more vulnerable to concussions than older athletes and may take longer to recover.
- Failure to properly manage concussion may lead to long-term cumulative consequences.
- Loss of consciousness is not an appropriate marker for the presence or absence of concussion.
- High school athletes are 3 times more likely to experience a second concussion if concussed once during a season.
- More than 5% of high school athletes are concussed each year while participating in collision sports. (Direct quote)
What to take away from this? Your high school athletes are at higher risk of concussions that can have long-lasting effects on your child.
Your child could sustain a concussion in any sport. Getting hit with a baseball or basketball. Falling off the balance beam. They don’t have to play football to get a concussion. But here are some sports where concussions are common.
When you think contact sport, you think football. Between 2009-2014, 10,500 concussions occurred in the NCAA. Of those, 32% were football related. A concussion is defined as a mild brain injury caused by a blow or hit to the head or a violent shaking of the head or body. But even if such a blow does not result in a concussion, there can still be brain trauma.
A new study was recently released about the brain activity of those who play contact sports such as football. Compared to those not in contact sports, there were differences in brain activity. The study references what are called micro-concussions—does not result in a full concussion but prevents problematic symptoms. According to the study, a college football player can sustain up to 1,000 micro-concussions in one season. Though a high school athlete might not sustain 1,000, what if they have 100, 200, or 500 micro-concussions?
Soccer has become more popular over the past few years. In this sport, you literally hit the ball with your head. It makes sense that concussions risk is high for soccer players. For female sports, soccer has the highest number of concussions.
In a study conducted from 2005-2014, male and female soccer athletes were monitored for injuries. While non-concussion injuries had either decreased or stayed the same, concussion rates increased. The study found that 18% of soccer injuries were concussions, follow by 16% being muscle strains.
Different studies have also found that female soccer athletes are more prone to concussion injuries—up to threefold. If you have a daughter that plays soccer, this should be on your radar.
How to Spot a Concussion
These statistics can be overwhelming. How do you help your child pursue their passion but not risk brain injury? For one, you need to educate yourself on concussion symptoms so you can recognize them in your child.
Potential Concussion Symptoms: According to Clinical Medicine & Research
- Feelings of dizziness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Sensitivity to noise
- Poor sleep
- Depressed or emotional
- Inpatient or frustrated
- Poor memory
- Blurred vision
- Poor concentration
- Taking longer periods to think
If your child exhibits a few of these symptoms, they might have side effects of a concussion. If your child experienced a fall or hard hit, it is best to seek medical attention even if no symptoms are glaringly present. There can still be injury or damage.
How Nutrition Can Protect Your Athlete
So, what can you do? Yes, you can learn to recognize symptoms. But what can you do before a concussion happens? It might not be what you think.
In a recent position statement, The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine suggests that protective equipment—such as a football helmet—does not reduce the incidence or severity of a concussion. That does not mean your athlete should not use protective equipment. But, more must be done to protect athletes from brain damage.
Our diets have drastically changed in this past century. Food is readily available, often in unhealthy forms. We are becoming deficient in key nutrients we need for a healthy life. For a healthy brain. With this prevalent lack of nutrition, our brains are becoming less resilient to injury and disease. Not a good thing, especially for young athletes in contact sports.
Here are the specifics on the reasons for our diminished brain resilience:
- The modern American diet has moved away from omega-3 fatty acids and toward more omega-6 fatty acids.
- Increased exposure to both environmental toxins as well as toxins in our current food source due to fertilizers, weed killers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.
- Diminished nutrients in our current food supply for the same reasons.
We are exposed to toxins. And our diets are lacking. It is important to focus on key nutrients that protect our brains and include them in our diet. These key nutrients are considered neuroprotective—they protect our nerves and brain from damage and decay.
An omega-3 fatty acid, DHA can promote faster healing when taken either before or after a brain injury. Unfortunately, DHA levels are chronically low among all age groups. Fish is the most common source of DHA but fish is no longer a major part of our diet. DHA supplementation can help protect athlete brains from future injuries.
When a traumatic injury happens, your brain experiences initial damage from the impact. However, this impact triggers a response that creates further damage. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can prevent further damage to brain tissue.
This is one of the most critical nutrients during pregnancy. And it critical to protecting your athlete’s brain. Folic acid improves brain function and supports mental and emotional health.
If your body does not get enough boron, it causes problems. Without enough boron, you can have poor performance on tasks that involve dexterity, hand-eye coordination, attention, and short and long-term memory—tasks that are essential to everyday life and your child’s athletic performance.
Not just for your bones and teeth. Calcium is an essential support to your brain and central nervous system. Preloading the body with calcium before a brain injury has many neuroprotective benefits—whereas lack of calcium can cause damage.
This mineral cannot be ignored. A lack of vitamin D can cause poor brain development. However, sufficient vitamin D can improve cognition, support brain development, and even help reduce depression symptoms.
Introducing Brain Protect
Beyond the nutrients mentioned above, there are many nutrients athletes need to protect their brains.
The important role nutrition plays for athletes, especially young athletes, should be overlooked. Which is why Forte Brain Protect was designed and added to our line of products that prepare your body. It is concerning that concussion rates are steadily increasing among the high school and college-age population. Even more concerning is that this increase is happening while greater measures were taken through education, rules, regulations, and equipment to reduce the incidence of concussions. With so much effort, the trend is still going in the wrong direction. And we need to change that.
Brain Protect is designed to protect the brain from the inside out. Many protective measures focusing on protecting the head. Shouldn’t we focus on protecting the brain? This blend of neuroprotective nutrients makes your brain tissue more resilient to traumatic brain injuries and help improve recovery if an injury does happen. Nutritional supplementation should be an important part of the care of your athlete. Our goal is to draw attention to diminished brain resilience and how nutrition can change the game. We want to protect athletes again devastating brain injuries. That is the purpose behind Forte Brain Protect.