Concussions: Reducing the Risks for High School Athletes

On Monday, Aug. 1, high school athletes around the state officially Preventing Concussions kicked
off their training for fall sports. Last year, Ohio High School Athletic Association introduced new regulations to help prevent concussions during football practices, but athletes in every sport are at risk of suffering this common injury. The first match-ups of the season are only a few weeks away, so take this time to learn the symptoms of a concussion and steps you can take to reduce your child’s risks.

What causes a concussion?

Concussions, usually caused by a blow to or violent shaking of the head and body, are the most common type of traumatic brain injury. Compared to other types of injuries, recovering from a concussion can be a relatively quick process. However, early detection is the key to preventing further damage or long-term consequences.

Common symptoms of concussions

  • Difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating or remembering new information
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness, nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise

Tips for reducing concussion risks in youth and high school athletes

Participation in sports can be a great experience for kids of all ages, but safety should always come first. Follow these tips to reduce your child’s concussion-related risks:

Consider baseline testing.

A trained health care professional can measure and interpret your child’s reaction times, balance and other cognitive processes to determine his or her standard performance. The results of these baseline tests can prove very helpful when determining the seriousness of the injury and recovery progress, but should not be used alone to diagnose a concussion.

Educate and empower your child.

You won’t be on the field or court to monitor your child’s health during games and practices. Educate them about the risks and symptoms of concussions, and encourage them to inform a coach or seek medical attention if there’s even a small possibility they suffered an injury. Remind your child it’s better to miss one game than the whole season.

Don’t rush recovery.

Athletes who resume activity while the brain is still healing increase their risk of suffering a second concussion or permanent brain damage. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, and are different for every person. If your child has suffered a concussion, the CDC recommends this 5-Step Return to Play Progression.

Check out these guides for tips on avoiding concussions in your child’s particular sport.

Best of luck to all of our area athletes as they enter their upcoming seasons!

Follow these tips for a fun and safe Fourth of July!


What do you have planned for the Fourth of July? From taking a mini vacation or hosting a cookout for family and friends to watching your local fireworks display, there are so many ways to enjoy this extended weekend. However, don’t let an injury or legal trouble ruin it for you or your family. Follow our tips for safe and fun Independence Day celebrations.

3 Tips for a Fun and Safe Fourth of July:

1. Be prepared for record-level traffic.

AAA recently estimated 43 million Americans will be hitting the road between June 30 and July 4. If the organization’s predictions hold true, it will be the highest travel volume ever recorded for this holiday period. Unfortunately, the National Safety Council also believes it could be the most deadly since 2008. Follow our tips for safe travel in heavy holiday traffic.

Most importantly, don’t forget to designate a sober driver or arrange for alternate transportation for your Independence Day festivities. According to NCS, almost 40 percent of fatal crashes during the holiday period each year involve alcohol.

2. Prevent fires at your cookout.

Firing up the grill over the long weekend? Keep your family, guests and home safe by taking simple precautions to prevent fires and injuries at your cookout. Be sure your grill is at least 10 feet away from your home, deck railings and other flammable surfaces. Your grill should never be left unattended, and children and pets should not be allowed to wander around the area while you’re cooking.

More grilling safety tips: Prevent Fires at Your Summer Cookouts

3. Be cautious about using fireworks.

First and foremost, check the laws in fourth of julyyour area regarding consumer firework use before making a purchase. In Ohio, it is legal to purchase many types of fireworks, but only a handful are legal to set off within the state. Even if you’re not at risk of legal consequences, all types of fireworks come with serious safety risks. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends giving children glow sticks to play with instead or sparklers or poppers, and it’s safer for everyone if you leave the real fireworks to the professionals.

Don’t forget your pets. Fourth of July can be a particularly stressful holiday for animals, so keep your pets inside during the fireworks display. Even if your pet is used to being outside or around people, the exceptionally loud noises and large crowds could cause them to panic or run.

However you choose to spend your holiday weekend, we hope your festivities are a blast. Happy Independence Day from all of us at Elk & Elk!

Staying Healthy at Work: 4 Steps to Improve Your Health & Wellness

Many businesses have health and wellness programs in place to encourage their employees to lead healthy lifestyles. However, even those who eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly can be at risk of developing health issues related to the workplace. Below are habits you should break and suggestions for staying healthy at work.

Tips for Staying Healthy at Work

1. Get moving.

Sitting for extended periods of time, as most do in office settings, can result in a number of serious health consequences. Consider switching to a standing desk or stability ball chair. Incorporate a few “deskercises” into your daily routine, or block off time during your lunch hour for a walk or quick work out. Most importantly, be sure you’re getting the recommended amount of physical activity each week outside of work hours.

2. Relax and recharge.Staying Healthy at Work

Chronic stress is linked to mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression), digestive problems, headaches, weight gain and many other negative effects on an individual’s health and wellness. Meditation, exercise and listening to music are a few quick fixes. Also, don’t be afraid to use your vacation time. Taking a few days off is a great way to recharge, and can actually make you more productive.

If you feel overwhelmed by your stress or believe you may be suffering from depression, seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional.

3. Eat smart.

Break the habit of heading for the office vending machine every time hunger strikes. Reduce the temptation by storing a few healthier snack options at your desk, and replace your regular pop, juice or sugary coffee drink with water. Keep in mind that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Be aware of your portions even when snacking on nutritious foods. Packing a balanced lunch each day is another great way to improve your eating habits, and may even help you save money.

4. Keep it clean.

Wash your hands often and try not to make contact with surfaces and items frequently touched by other employees. Disinfect all of your work surfaces on a regular basis, including your cell phone. In the event that you become ill despite these efforts stay home until your symptoms subside. If you don’t have any available sick time, do your best to prevent the spread of germs by covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Have a coworker who chooses to ignore this advice? It’s probably best to avoid them while they’re exhibiting symptoms.

Following these tips and taking advantage of any programs offered by your employer can improve your well-being and even increase your job satisfaction. What are your best tips for staying healthy at work? Tell us in the comments!

Grilling Safety Tips: Prevent Fires at Your Summer Cookouts

As the weather warms up in Ohio, many of us are looking forward to firing up the grill for a backyard barbecue. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this fun summer tradition is accompanied by many serious hazards. Read on for grilling safety tips to help protect your family, guests and home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s 2016 Home Grill Fires Report, grill-related incidents were the cause of nearly 9,000 home fires per year between 2009 and 2013. On average, these fires resulted in 160 injuries, 10 deaths and over $100 million in property damage annually.

More than 80 percent of the grills involved in the reported fires were fueled by gas, and the leading causes include unattended grills, failure to clean the grill and grills placed too close to flammable structures or objects.

Prevent fires by following these grilling safety tips:

  • Never grill indoors, including inside your garage. When choosing a location for your grill, select a spot at least 10 feet away from your home, deck railings and other structures. Check for overhanging branches and other plants or bushes that may catch fire if exposed to heat.
  • Before using your propane grill for the first time of the year, check the tank hose for gas leaks. The National Fire Protection Association recommends brushing or spraying soapy water on the hose. Turn on the tank and watch for bubbles, which signify a leak. If bubbles appear, turn off the tank and check the connections. If the leak is still present after you’ve resolved any potential connection issues, do not use your grill until it has been given the OK by a professional.

  • Never leave your grill unattended. A fire could occur even if you’ve taken all of the necessary precautions, and wandering children or pets could suffer serious burns and injuries in an instant. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • If you begin to smell gas while you’re grilling, turn off the burners and tank. Clear any family members or guests from the area and contact your local fire department immediately if the smell continues after the grill has been turned off. Have your grill looked at by a professional before using it again.

Fire isn’t the only hazard associated with grilling. Follow these tips to keep foodborne illnesses from ruining your summer cookouts.

Do You Know the Nine Types of Depression?

Though depression is commonly mistaken for sadness, it is much more than a state of mind. According to the National InstituteTypes of Depression of Mental Illness, depression is classified as an illness that interferes with daily life or functioning.

According to the Kim Foundation on Mental Health Resources, 26.2 percent of individuals over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Anyone can be affected, and each person experiences it differently. Though many subsets of the disorder exist, there are nine more general classifications.

9 Types of Depression:

1. Major Depression

Also known as clinical depression, individuals suffering from this form of the disorder endure a depressed mood most of the day. It typically causes a loss of interest in normal activities and can affect sleep, appetite and social routines. These symptoms are often experienced for a couple of months at a time.

2. Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is a sense of hopelessness and despair lasting for a period of at least two years. This form was previously referred to as dysthymia or chronic depression. According to WebMD, the symptoms may be less severe at different points, but last for two years or more.

3. Psychotic Depression

This form can be quite difficult, as it includes some form of psychosis (delusions or hallucinations) along with the typical symptoms. A false sense of reality on top of feeling depressed is a combination of illnesses often treated with medication. The U.S. National Library of medicine explains that the cause of this subset is unknown, but it commonly runs in families.

4. Postpartum Depression

Often written off as “baby blues,” this form of the disorder is a result of hormonal and physical changes to the body after giving birth. Ten to 15 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression, and can experience the symptoms within a year of giving birth. Treatment is available from any of your medical doctors, including your OBGYN.

5. Seasonal Affective Disorder

During winter months, less natural light is produced. The human body reacts accordingly, causing people to feel the need to hibernate. In these circumstances seasonal affective disorder can set in, resulting in oversleeping, daytime fatigue, overeating and loss of interest in daily activities. An interesting form of treatment, light therapy, involves the use of a device that imitates natural light.

6. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder was formerly referred to as manic depression, but was changed because those suffering from bipolar disorder can experience extreme low moods (depression), as well as high moods (mania). These highs and lows fluctuate, out of the control of the person with bipolar disorder.

7. Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is considered one of the most underdiagnosed and most common forms of the disorder. It can be more easily diagnosed because of its physical side effects on the person suffering, which include a sense of heaviness of the arms and legs. Often, the physician may not link the physical symptoms to depression right away. Other symptoms include oversleeping, overeating and increased relationship problems.

8. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

This form is often mistaken for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but is much more severe. This occurs during the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Only 5 percent of women experience PMDD, while 85 percent of women experience PMS. Symptoms include severe depressed moods and anxiety.

9. Situational Depression

Situational depression usually stems from a catastrophic event, or a series of unpleasant events strung together. Individuals suffering from this form often feel excessively sad, worried and nervous. These situations can often trigger more serious forms of the disorder if they aren’t addressed promptly.


Though many people face a form of this disorder, it is possible to overcome the symptoms and get back to a state of good mental health. Any individual suffering from a mental illness of any kind is encouraged to seek assistance from a physician, counselor or other mental health professional. No matter who you inform, it is important to let someone you trust know your struggle with depression. Each day in treatment is a day closer to becoming healthy, just like the healing process from any illness.

If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, 1-800-273-TALK is a free, 24-hour call center that is willing to listen.

You can learn more about many of these disorders on the NIMH website.