Concussions have become one of the most prevalent injuries in sports, and all athletic organizations have been taking precautions to help prevent the head injury in recent years.

As more becomes known about concussions, most sports have been proactive in making some necessary changes to their game to try and keep their athletes safe. 

For Concussion Awareness Week, we spoke with Portage Collegiate's head football coach Brendon Brydges who says while it may seem like there are more injuries than ever, that doesn't mean the game hasn't become safer.

"When it comes to concussions, I think there's more now than there was (when he played) because there wasn't as much awareness around concussions," Brydges explains. "We knew what they were but we didn't really know what they were. I probably had a few concussions playing high school football and major football in Brandon but they went undiagnosed because we weren't really looking for it. It was like, 'Your head is ringing? Okay well, you just got your bell run. Give yourself a couple of minutes, get back in there and go play.' That was the mentality when I was growing up."

Brydges says the thought process surrounding concussions has now completely flipped and notes with his team if someone gets hit in the head, there's a very high chance that player will be out for the rest of the day.

With a good portion of concussions coming from direct head contact, sports like football and hockey have implemented severe penalties for hits to the head. In hockey, this results in a five-minute major penalty with the player making the hit, being ejected from the game, and in football, a helmet-to-helmet hit results in a 15-yard-penalty and a first down, along with fines and potential suspensions at the higher levels. 

Brydges says it actually used to be encouraged to lead with your head as a defensive player on the football field.

"Growing up, when I got to more competitive levels like high school, we were (encouraged) to lead with your head or get your head on the ball. Nowadays, especially since I started coaching, we were immediately taught to try and keep the head out of the game and try and get the head out of the way during a tackle. I think that's one of the biggest things when it comes to football is emphasizing safe ways to keep the head up and out of the way while you're making a tackle."

With sports culture often being about overcoming adversity, many athletes will brush off injuries but this can be extremely dangerous, especially when it comes to head injuries. Brydges talks about the importance of coaches being that fail-safe when certain athletes try to get back out there too quickly.

"With all the information we've gotten in the last 10-15 years when it comes to concussions, with the second impact syndrome, where you already have a concussion, it increases your risks if you get hit in the head again. So, I really emphasize, any hit to the head, you get pulled from the game or practice and then we have a protocol to be followed. There's a seven-day process you have to go through. On top of that, we're requiring doctor's notes for kids to get cleared because no one on our staff is a medical doctor. We can suggest that you might have a concussion but we're not trained to diagnose a concussion."

Concussion Awareness Week in Canada started on September 26 and goes until October 2.