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Heads Up!

Football players aren't the only ones who get concussions. Farmers and ranchers are at risk, too.

Football season is fun for the whole community, but with it comes a risk of concussions for players. This may not be the first injury that comes to mind when you think of farming, but it's not at all uncommon.

According to Ohio State University Extension, farmers are at a high risk of this form of traumatic brain injury because of falling, working with livestock, and maneuvering heavy tools and equipment. Activities like lying underneath raised equipment, squeezing into tight spaces to make repairs, and working in low-visibility conditions can also lead to concussions.

Even if you feel fine after taking a blow to the head, be sure to tell someone about the incident and seek medical attention immediately if you think you may have a concussion.

A person who has a concussion often experiences a headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, double or blurred vision, sensitivity to light or noise, a sluggish or groggy feeling, memory problems, trouble concentrating, or confusion.

Others may notice the victim is dazed, confused, forgetful, unsure of surroundings, clumsy, and slow to answer questions. A victim may also lose consciousness, experience personality changes, and have trouble recalling events prior to or after the injury.

A person who has suffered a concussion needs time to heal, which is a difficult pill for many farmers to swallow.

If another blow to the head occurs before the brain is completely healed, a second concussion is likely, and this can slow recovery or increase the chance of long-term problems and brain damage.

Just as football players wear specialized equipment and practice heads-up tackling to avoid concussions, you can also take preventive steps to reduce the risk of head trauma.

• Avoid working on equipment with loose parts or tools directly above your head.

• Be aware of your surroundings, especially in low-light conditions, paying special attention to what's beside and above you.

• Maintain three points of contact (one hand/two feet, or two hands/one foot) when climbing or getting in and out of equipment.

• Use proper handling techniques around aggressive or defensive livestock.

• Use personal protective equipment including head protection when needed.

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