ALTON - We’ve all heard it from the bleachers: “Shake it off!” “Rub some dirt on it!” “You just got your bell rung!” And while the old sports adages may fit with normal bumps, bruises and scrapes, head injury should never get brushed off as a simple side effect of sports.

Concussions – even mild ones – should be considered traumatic brain injuries. Carol Babcock, OTR/L Certified in Impact and Concussion Level 1 and Level 2 Certified, is an Occupational Therapist at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center. Her team offers a specialized concussion program. She says often the injury slips through the cracks.

“Up to 50% of concussions may go undiagnosed,” says Babcock. “A loss of consciousness doesn’t need to occur, and often our kids are put back into play before they have had time to heal. This opens the possibility of long-term, even permanent effects.”

Babcock is offering a free class on the dangers of concussion, and available treatment options. The class is designed to bring concussion awareness to the community.

“If a concussion is not recognized and treated properly there is a risk of death or severe health problems,” warned Babcock. “So it is important to be seen by an integrated, experienced concussion clinic or team. The symptoms of a concussion may not appear immediately and may be subtle, and can present themselves immediately following a concussion or days, months, or years after. Until a concussion has been properly evaluated by someone who specializes in concussion, an athlete should not go back into play. It is better to sit out a game or a season rather than a lifetime.”

Concussions: What You Don’t Know will take place Tuesday, June 26 at OSF Saint Anthony’s Perpetual Help Center (1 Saint Anthony’s Way in Alton). The class will meet from 6-7:00 p.m. and is free to attend. To register, visit osfsaintanthonys.org/calendar.

The Concussion Rehab Clinic at OSF Saint Anthony’s includes a group of specialists, all with the goal of helping someone suffering with a concussion to return to daily activities. For more information, call (618) 463-5171.