CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fall sports have begun for students across the Carolinas and doctors are urging parents to be cautious when it comes to concussions

Doctors in the area say the number of head injuries is likely underreported, but concussions are a serious risk and repeated blows to the head, neck and upper body can have long-term impacts on a student athlete’s life.

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“You have people who have memory deficits that impact their everyday. They’re not able to go out and remember what they’re doing, where they’re going. People are having more issues later in life with personality and conflict,” Dr. Carrie Watson, the trauma medical director and co-ICU director at Piedmont Medical Center said.

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Watson said the initial exam is key. Parents should look out for disorientation and emotional changes if their child takes a hit.

“The big warning signs are going to be those neurological deficits,” she said. “Balance issues, coordination issues, if someone who’s awake and interacting is no longer doing that then that should raise your suspicion that they have a significant concussion.”

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The best treatment for a concussion is rest. Symptoms can persist for up to four weeks and doctors warn rushing back onto the field can be dangerous.

“If you are still healing and then you’re not making good decisions, guess what, that increased likelihood that you’re going to have another impact another concussion it just keeps piling up on top of each other,” Watson said.

Prioritizing health and safety a win for student-athletes.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.