Former NFL receiver urges parents to stay informed on concussions
By Greg Bach
Austin Collie caught 179 passes during his NFL career, the bulk of them from legendary quarterback Peyton Manning during his days with the Indianapolis Colts.
He also scored 16 touchdowns and accounted for more than 1,900 receiving yards.
But there’s another number that accompanies Collie’s career: The half dozen concussions he suffered that ultimately cut his career short.
And the father of three has an all-important message for today’s parents of young athletes regarding concussions.
“Even though you can’t see it and you can’t touch it and it doesn’t show up on an X-ray, it is a real injury,” he says. “Be cautious with your kids and know what to look for. My biggest thing is having all the information you can so you can stay on top of it. Parents must stay informed. I know a lot of parents out there who aren’t even aware of what the concussion protocol is of their youth program or team – that’s if they even have a protocol.”
Since retiring from the game Collie has spent time volunteering at a concussion clinic in Provo, Utah, speaking with patients who are dealing with concussions. “It’s a very weird world when you’re suffering from the aftermath of a concussion,” he says. “You have a lot of mixed symptoms and you just feel like you are not all there.”
Collie is also an advisor for Canary Speech, which looks to develop a way to identify concussions using the same speech technology they have used to help identify Alzheimer’s and depression.
We caught up with Collie, who shared his thoughts on concussions and keeping young athletes safe:
SPORTINGKID LIVE: Kids often try to hide injuries so they can continue playing, so what’s your message to young athletes?
COLLIE: It’s important that they know if they come back too early it’s only going to further set them back. I think kids just need to be educated so they know what a concussion is. When I suffered mine I didn’t know what to look for. The more information that gets out there and the more knowledge that these kids can have, it’ll be easier to identify concussions. And they also need to know the consequences of coming back too early from a concussion or going back into a game after sustaining one because a second impact can be lethal. The more information these kids have the better.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: As a parent with young sons now will you let them play tackle football when they’re older?
COLLIE: There’s going to be a time where me and their mom are going to sit down and really go through things and come up with an age where it’s going to be appropriate. Ultimately, I think they will play. I played, their two grandpas played Division One college football and three of their uncles played Division One football, so it’s going to be hard to tell them no, they can’t play.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: What’s the right age for tackle football?
COLLIE: I don’t know. Every doctor out there has a different opinion. I think the later the better. At young ages their brains are constantly changing and evolving, so I think the later you can hold them out the better. I’m not against football and I’m not against contact sports. I believe there are life lessons that you can only get through playing football, and that may be a little bit biased. One thing that I felt there wasn’t enough of when I got injured was information. Then right around when I had my first couple of concussions was when they started identifying the problem and coming out with all this research. I feel like there are still things we need to know but we’re headed in the right direction.
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Updated guidelines say during the first 24 hours home and leisure activities may be undertaken as long as they are only for five minutes at a time, and stopped if symptoms increase